August 1, 2019

This Choice Rests with Us

Robert Lichtman Chief Jewish Learning Officer

I just received a message from our friends at The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School that Cantor Shimon Vogel needs a kidney, Blood Type A+.

This reminded me that, as we near the completion of the Torah reading cycle, we will come across what may be its bottom-line takeaway: Choose life. Deceiving in its straightforward simplicity, this divine imperative reminds us that while life and death are usually in God’s hands, there will be times when that choice rests with us.

Now — right now — is such a time.

Needing a new kidney is not Cantor Vogel’s choice. But providing a kidney will be the choice that a potential life-saving donor will make.

Cantor Vogel was a long-time teacher and member of the administration at Kushner when my children attended. He was the cantor at Congregation Anshe Chesed in Linden. He helped make Greater MetroWest greater.

The family has been in touch with Renewal, a non-profit organization that saves lives by helping facilitate kidney transplants for those suffering with chronic kidney disease. Renewal has encouraged the dissemination of the request through a wide-spread email campaign to help find a match.

If you or someone you may know is willing and able to perform the selfless mitzvah of donating a kidney to help Cantor Vogel, please call (718) 431-9831 ext. 209 (Brooklyn, NY). All inquiries to Renewal are strictly confidential and are without any obligation. They can also put you in touch with others who have donated a kidney and are willing to share their experience. All medical costs for evaluation and surgery are covered by the recipient’s insurance. Ancillary costs such as travel expenses and lodging may be covered by Renewal. Learn more about Renewal and the amazing work they do at

The Torah that concludes on this life-affirming directive begins the same way. Adam is alone in the universe, and so to create a partner for him, God opens Adam’s side and removes a part of him that becomes a woman. This surgery enabled the perpetuation of life itself and the existence of all humankind that ensued. The surgery of live-kidney transplantation similarly enables a donor today to be nothing less than a partner in creating life.

You, dear reader, may not be the kidney donor, but you may know someone who will be. Share the message. Choose life.