Our Bears from Bergenfield Story 2002Why and how “Sammy G” Goldstein started the project Why and how Rabbi Claire kept it “bearing up” bears
We began right after 9/11. None of us were accustomed to terror attacks.We weren’t prepared for 9/11. We were upset and shaken up. We wantedto do something to help. We began with making copies of the American flag out of safety pins and pretend jewels.
Who is We? My children- Sam, Shira, Seth andSarah, including me. That’s what makes this storyso special for me as a Mom and Jewish educator.
Sammy G, my eldest, age 10, at the time, was suddenly hospitalized witha ruptured appendix. Sam didn’t understand why we were making jewelry for Israeli children as gestures of kindness. He thought that they wouldn’tunderstand. He suggested that we send teddy bears or stuffed animals. He was given one as a hospital gift and enjoyed receiving it. He was happy.
Sammy G brought the idea to our Hebrew school, Cong. Beth Israel of Bergenfield, NJ. Another Sam V. brought in the first donation of a basketball teddy bears from Build a bear. Many more toys were donated. We were hoping for 100, tops. We have received over 137,000 toys in just 10 years of collecting.
We filled up our first donated duffels and wondered who would be able to bring ourtoys to Israeli children who were victims of terror. We met with Sharon Evans and herdaughter Monique, at JFK El Al. They took our first duffel. We then were offered a teddybear ride from the Bergen County Hebrew High School. How did the toys get to Israel?You might ask.
But who picks up the toys from the bear schleppers? Betty and Ed Wolfe, ofKfar Saba, have been making approximately 100 airport runs per year, forthe past 9 years. They race to the airport as soon as they hear that a duffelof “doobis” teddy bears are on their way! For six teddy bear missions, Shira,my daughter, has been able to help them too!
Who receives the “doobis” teddy bears in Israel? We send to Meir Hospital in KfarSaba because Debbie Shkedi, the head nurse needs 30,000 toys a year. If we have any left over, we send to One Family Fund, an organization that helps victims of terror, Beit Lynn, Children Protective Services, Miklat bat Melech, abused family shelters, Emunah Afula, Migdal Ohr, Tel Hashomer and Shaarey Zedek Hospitals.
We couldn’t keep this project going if it wasn’t for you. Please donatetoday. There are so many children in Israel who could use a bear hug, just like Sammy G 10 years ago. He was happy with his stuffed dog, another child could be too. Share a bear; show you care.