by Jody Treiser Greenspon
In 1991, a massive campaign to find a donor who could save the life of Jay Feinberg began in suburban New Jersey. Thousands in the tri-state area and beyond responded to the call for help. After years of tireless effort, Jay's miracle match was found. In the process, many lives were saved, and countless others were touched by the outpouring of well wishes. Out of this effort, the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry was born.
Asher Peskowitz was in the seventh grade back in 1991. He recalls hearing all about Jay Feinberg and his search for a donor. Too young to be tested to see if he was a match for Jay, Asher watched from the sidelines as members of his family and community rolled up their sleeves to offer help.
Years later, as Asher sat in Shul just days before he was to marry his bride, Kimberly, he listened to an appeal to join the Gift of Life Marrow Registry. Asher was moved as Daniel Rosenfield, a Gift of Life volunteer, explained that emergency drives were being conducted throughout New York in a desperate attempt to find a match for a young Israeli girl named Bracha Naomi Mandelbaum needing a transplant. Intrigued, Asher visited Gift of Lifes website, where he was surprised to find that it was directed by the very same Jay Feinberg whom he recalled from so many years ago. That personal connection solidified his resolve to help, and is why he and Kimberly decided to hold a donor drive at their wedding reception at the Rose Castle in Williamsburg, New York on Sunday, September 21, 2003.
The couple told only a few close friends of their plans. Following the wedding ceremony, the groom rose before 420 guests and told of the plight of the little girl in Israel who needed their help. Everyone (including Ashers new in-laws!) was shocked when he led them into a room full of Gift of Life volunteers who were prepared to test potential donors on the spot. The immediate reaction was of total astonishment.
Though many in attendance were already part of the registry, 91 guests decided to be tested at the wedding. A quick swab of their cheek could result in the chance to save someones life! "People will tell you that if need be, they will go to the ends of the earth to save a life. We just figured we would make it easy by bringing the opportunity to them. Sometimes a little push is all it takes," Asher said.
Asher is an accountant and his wife Kimberly is a nurse. The couple plans to settle down in the Kew Gardens Hills section of Queens, New York. Both expressed hope that their small act may someday help save a life. They plan to remain involved in Gift of Life as volunteers and encourage others to hold wedding drives of their own. "I would be thrilled to help others hold drives at their weddings," said Asher. "Now, I have first-hand knowledge of the best way to do it logistically. The most important thing I learned was to run the idea by my future in-laws first!"
As for sharing the spotlight during their simcha, the couple notes what a blessing it was to begin their marriage with such an act of loving kindness. We hope that HaShem will bless us with the same throughout our lives together.
In addition to a heartfelt thank you for taking part in this mission to save lives, Gift of Life wishes Asher and Kimberly a Mazel Tov on their wedding, and many years of health and happiness together.
To learn more about how you can help recruit potential bone marrow donors for Gift of Life, call 1-800-9MARROW or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make your tax-deductible contribution to help find a match for Bracha Naomi, click here.