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To Make A Difference: Challenges, Yes; Questions, No

Yocheved Lavon

Rabbi Reuven Weinreb, Kiryat Sefer, Israel // Nominated by Miriam Haberman

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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ou may have heard of Reuven Weinreb. On the one hand, his life is a hard-luck story that just leaves people shaking their heads in disbelief. He has a brain illness that has left him largely incapacitated and physically dependent on others. Somehow, he has fallen through the cracks in the system and hasn’t been eligible for the financial aid he needs. One of his kids has the same illness, and several of his other kids have other serious health issues. His landlord won’t renew his rental contract; there’s a Chesed Fund page about helping the family get suitable housing.

On the other hand, he refuses to give in to negativity. While he isn’t too proud to ask for the help he needs, he looks for every chance to give to others. (I know him from the Modiin Illit e-mail group, which I still subscribe to although I no longer live there.) But here’s the clincher: In order not to remain dependent on tzedakah, he trained as an NLP therapist and is making every effort to build up his business. He has testimonials from people who say he’s a talented practitioner and has helped them significantly.

I think your readers should hear about the way he faces his circumstances and remains optimistic and productive.

 

You’ve probably seen the Chesed Fund page for the Weinreb family — the one that’s splashed with tragic images and lists a litany of troubles reminiscent of Sefer Iyov. The father, Reuven Weinreb, who was formerly a successful businessman in New York, has a brain illness that has left him disabled and largely incapacitated. Four of his five children suffer from serious illnesses. His wife Chava, a skilled massage therapist, spends much of her time in hospitals and doctors’ offices with her husband or children and always has to be ready to deal with a medical emergency at a moment’s notice.

Obviously, neither parent is able to do much for the family’s parnassah. With the help of a lawyer, Rabbi Weinreb is engaged in a prolonged struggle to get his disability fully recognized by Israel’s National Insurance Foundation and receive a commensurate level of aid. To top it all off, the family’s landlord has declined to renew their rental contract, leaving them with a choice of finding the means to afford a suitable apartment in Kiryat Sefer, where their life has been based for more than a decade, or facing all the stresses of relocating to somewhere less expensive. This is why the Weinreb family has been forced to reach out for help.

Nebach! you’re thinking, right?

Actually, the pictures of the man in the oxygen mask, lying helpless in an ambulance, and his history of brain surgery and vocal cord paralysis, is only one side of the story. When you meet him that impression is quickly shattered. His voice is clear and confident. He is ill, but radiant. Disabled, but powerful. Somehow staying serenely afloat in a sea of troubles. A man not too proud or ashamed to ask for help, but whose fulfillment lies in helping others — which is why he has trained as an NLP therapist and already has an impressive track record of success. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 728)

 

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