“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A mentor is someone who allows you to know that no matter how dark the night, in the morning joy will come. A mentor is someone who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.” — Oprah Winfrey
BG laid her hands on my shoulders and said a prayer for my health. We weren’t in a church or synagogue. We weren’t at a prayer meeting or mosque. We had just finished a national meeting of Hadassah volunteers. Most had already left. I was saying good-bye to Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director, Hadassah Office in Israel (HOI) and it was her way of saying good-bye to me. It was her way of telling me that no matter how bad my days with Multiple Sclerosis might be, in the morning, joy would come. She was helping me to see that there was a higher part of myself that I should never forget. BG was praying for me, not only to feel better, but also to find purpose in my life. It worked.
I met Barbara Goldstein at a dinner in Jerusalem. It was a gathering of 12 people who seemed to have little in common except a love of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HZOA). I was in Israel for my second stem cell treatment at Hadassah. The first treatment was so incredible that I was glad to join the group of people who gathered to share stories of their love of Hadassah. BG wasn’t seated next to me at the table, so we didn’t speak much at our first meeting. It was during the many subsequent visits that I realized BG was the most inspirational volunteer I’ve ever met. She inspired me to strive to achieve my optimal physical and mental health.
The day following the dinner, I had my second stem cell infusion at Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in Israel to treat MS, the disease I’ve endured for more than 20 years. I stayed in the hospital overnight to ensure that there were no complications. There were none. BG came by to visit before I was discharged. It was her way of telling me that she cared about my health. She was warm and friendly. She was outspoken and funny. She represented the very best in a volunteer. Under Jewish ethics, visiting the sick is especially important. The “mitzvah” of visiting the sick extends to people of all ethnic and religious groups. Even though she barely knew me, she shared my joy in the immediate improvement of my symptoms by the morning after the treatment. She taught by her example, of the importance of visiting the sick.
Over the next four years, BG visited my hospital room every time I was treated at Hadassah. Subsequently, I have learned that BG has visited thousands of patients at HMO, inspiring joy in each. At age, 18 BG was the National President of Junior Hadassah in America. For the last 60 years, she has served as a volunteer for Hadassah and is a former HWZOA National Board Member.
Twenty-three years ago, BG moved to Israel, leaving children and grandchildren who were a source of joy in her life, to be a source of joy in the life of others. Whether seeing BG at the hospital in Israel or a national conference of volunteers, she always inspires and motivates everyone she meets. The joy she brings is evident from the smiles she leaves behind.
Today, as a result of the joy BG inspired, I have my life back. I volunteer one day a week at the Dallas Children’s Hospital. Barbara volunteers 6 days a week. My work with children is much easier than Barbara’s work with many who are older and less appreciative. I rely on costumes to generate laughter and smiles. Barbara relies on the light and joy she radiates. I live a very comfortable life in Dallas, Texas. Barbara lives in Jerusalem where life is much more dangerous and uncertain. Even if I live to be 78, and volunteer for the next 16 years, I will never come close to having the impact on the lives of others as BG has had. Barbara has helped me realize that I have a higher purpose. BG has been my mentor, inspiring me to do all that I can today to help other patients.
According to the Talmud, a holy book in the Jewish faith, life is the most holy thing that exists. “He who saves a single life, saves the world entire.” I previously interpreted this to mean that to an individual, his life is the whole world. I now understand that when you save one life, you empower that person to save many others. BG, through her volunteering, and mentoring of other volunteers, has brought joy to the world. I believe that BG has saved the entire world by inspiring patients to become volunteers.
In the Jewish prayer of healing, the Mi Shebeirach, Jews pray for a physical cure as well as spiritual healing, asking for blessing, compassion, restoration and strength within the community of all human beings. The prayer asks to “Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”
BG has been my mentor, inspiring joy, and helping me to find the courage to make my life a blessing. Thank you, BG!
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