Chabad of Kentucky invites the community to attend a Purim celebration and dinner celebrating unity at the Muhammad Ali Center on Thursday, March 8. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for those who wish to tour the museum. There will be a Megillah reading at 6 and a kosher dinner served at 6:30.
The evening will also include entertainment and an opportunity to save a life by registering with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.
With the Purim holiday, Jews around the world recall the time when Persian Jews were threatened with imminent death, and saved at the last moment. Today, the holiday, regarded as the happiest day of the year, is celebrated with a festive meal with family and friends, hearing the reading of the Megillah and reaching out to care for one another.
To make it easy for community members to fulfill the latter obligation, Chabad has arranged for the Gift of Life to come to this Purim celebration to register people who would be willing to be bone marrow donors.
Leukemia is a form of cancer that is a random killer. It can strike anyone at any time. For many leukemia victims, a bone marrow transplant is their only chance for survival. But how does a person with leukemia find a donor for that transplant?
For the transplant to work, the donor and recipient must be genetically matched. It is much more likely that a match can be found between people of the same ethnic group than those from different groups. Therefore, when a Jewish person needs a bone marrow transplant, he or she will have better odds finding a perfect match within the Jewish community than elsewhere.
There is a worldwide Bone Marrow Registry, but Jews are such a small ethnic group that they are not adequately represented there. To address this issue, the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation is a Jewish registry. By focusing so narrowly, they are better able to make matches and save lives.
About five years ago, David Klein, a member of the Louisville Jewish community, was diagnosed with leukemia. His illness progressed to the point that only a bone marrow transplant could save his life. Fortunately, he found a donor through the help of the Gift of Life.
Gift of Life doesn’t let the donor and recipient meet until a year after the procedure, and then only if both parties are interested in making the connection. Klein found out that his life-giving donor was Elchonon Reizes, a teenage boy studying in a Chabad school in New York.
The school had taught about the importance of saving a life and had held a bone marrow registry drive. Reizes had signed up, and three years passed with no activity. Then the match was made with Klein and Reizes followed through to save his life. Today Klein regards the younger man as his brother.
With G-d’s help, Reizes’ generosity, and Gift of Life’s matchmaking, Klein got a second lease on life and has made helping the community a focus of his life today.
When Rabbi Avrohom Litvin heard about this miracle and realized how simple it is to save another’s life, he invited Gift of Life to Chabad of Kentucky’s 2010 Purim celebration. Klein and Reizes joined in the celebration that day, and more than 100 people registered as potential bone marrow donors.
Recently, Gift of Life notified Chabad that one of the people who registered at the 2010 event is a match for a 73-year-old patient in need of a transplant, so a member of our community may have the opportunity to save another person’s life.
If you did not register with Gift of Life in 2010, Chabad invites you to do it in 2012.
Rabbi Litvin explained that the Muhammad Ali Center was chosen for this event because of the principles Ali taught throughout his life: courage, spirituality, dedication, giving and being the best you can be.
The dinner and entertainment, he continued, are designed to bring together communities from around the world. The dinner will include mandarin salad with Asian ginger dressing from China, spiced chicken over couscous from Morocco, a choice of fine Italian wines and a Parisian dessert mousse. The entertainment will feature Israeli music and dancing, a Brazilian capoeira performance and a demonstration of authentic African drumming.
The cost for the event is $28 for adults, $14 for children (12 and under) and $18 for students. Sponsorships are available for $180. To reserve your place or to help sponsor this program, please send payment no later than March 1 to Chabad of Kentucky, 3706 Dutchmans Ln., Louisville, KY 40205; or register online at www.chabadky.com.