The truck pulled away with an empty container, we walked up the steps between the boxes and our minds were boggled, what a sight! It was nearly impossible to even walk into the Chaiyanu \ Chai Lifeline Israel office in Jerusalem. Why? It’s Chanukah and the special delivery arrived from Woodmere to Israel, 230 boxes filled with Chanukah presents; toys, playmobile, dolls and huge doll houses, board games, clothing, laptops, computer items, cameras, I-pods, Wii’s, playstaions, whatever the cancer child wished for, that is what they are receiving. Robbie Schonfeld and the “OSSIE SCHONFELD MEMORIAL CHANUKAH TOY FUND” have provided tens of thousands of gifts to hundreds of cancer children and their siblings all over Israel. Year after year, tireless efforts to buy the gifts, then to package them and ship them to Israel, have been the project of the Schonfeld family of Woodmere, New York.
Robbie and Judy Schonfeld arrived right before Chanukah with one agenda, to bring joy, hope and strength to all the cancer kids in Israel and to their families. For the next eight days miracles happened and bright lights lit up the dark and painful world of the cancer children with the personal delivery of each Chanukah present that was wished for by every child.
Three car loads of volunteers followed Robbie and Judy in their bus together will Dr. Neal Goldberg and his clowns from Lev Leytzan the Compassionate Clown Alley group from New York, headed down South, the plan, Be’er Sheba, Sderot, Netivot and a Chanukah party for the Soroka Medical Center Pediatric Oncology Ward at Globus Max Theater in Be’er Sheva. Rabbi Yaakov Pinsky, Director of Chaiyanu\Chai Lifeline Israel, received a phone call from Professor J. Kapelushnick , expressing his great appreciation for the Chanukah Party for the families in the South; they haven’t stop talking about it and how it has given them joy, hope and strength to continue their fight against cancer. After visiting over twenty three families each one receiving bags and bags of gifts for all the siblings and of course the wish of the child who is sick, they decided to go to one more house even though it was close to ten thirty at night. They called Moriah’s house, everyone was awake, confirming that in ten minutes they would arrive, the family so excited that the whole entourage was coming over for a Chanukah celebration. You could see the lights of their Chanukah Menorah still flickering at this late hour, they unloaded the car with all the gifts, took out the guitars and a huge bag of candy and nosh, then all loaded up they went singing up the stairs and into the house. Everyone was jumping up and down, spinning like dreidels, what a scene, such happiness a sure way to forget about cancer and all the effects it has on the entire family, but at this moment just pure joy, singing dancing and all smiles!! Robbie and Judy carrying a very large box went over to Moriah and at that moment as she realizes from the picture what is in this huge box, she yells out “Habayit Boba Shalee” (“My Doll House”) a huge Fisher-Price doll house, twice the size of 5 year old Moriah, who has Ewing Sarcoma and fighting for her life. She knew exactly what was in that box because this was her wish for Chanukah, and she also knew that Chaiyanu would get it for her. From that moment on and for the rest of the evening Moriah held on to Robbie, sitting on his lap, climbing all over him, and being held by Robbie like they have known each other for years (this is the first time they met). All the while, the volunteers, clowns and the family are having a wonderful time, the siblings opening up their presents, singing, playing and laughing….. and for the moment forgetting about all the pain.
This is what Chanukah is all about; this is what people are doing for these children. The truth is, that it doesn’t end with the Chanukah gifts, and the parties and all the fun, it goes so much further than that. It generates relationships forever, for us and for the children, but you really want to know what it’s all about? It’s really about ALL The ROBBIE’S IN THE WORLD!
The entire family, no matter how many siblings there are, every single one of them gets an age appropriate Chanukah gift that is bought especially for them. The Chaiyanu families in Israel, has been so warmly touched by the care and concern of the Schonfeld Family and by their determination to make sure that this will be the best Chanukah that they ever had.
Months and months of work, of blood, sweat and tears, and tens of thousands of dollars, are what goes into making the OSSIE SCHONFELD MEMORIAL CHANUKAH TOY FUND one of the greatest successes of our communities.
Chaiyanu supports families of children with cancer in countless ways. No, we’re not doctors, and we dispense no medical advice. But we are experts at understanding what the critical illness of a child does to every member of the family. Each one becomes a victim. Each one needs special attention in order to become healthy and thrive.
We acknowledge the pain of family members by giving the ill child – and every sibling – an age-appropriate Chanukah gift. The process of raising the necessary funds, ordering the gifts, monitoring the inventory, and delivering the presents is an arduous one. Our small staff and many volunteers throw themselves into the work, spending 18 hour days packing, driving, singing, dancing, and celebrating the joy of a child who wants to once again feel the Simcha of Chanukah. There are no words to describe what we see, and what it feels like at that moment, to celebrate Chanukah in a child’s bedroom and to capture that moment as an everlasting memory.