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New Jersey - VIN News Story Inspires Los Angeles Philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz To Aid Teaneck Family With $63K Check

Published on: July 2, 2015 09:10 PM
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 Arthur the father watches  Tzvi 18 drive away as his sister Rivka 23 and mother Esther watch as well on June 21, 2015..  the parents (Arthur and Esther) have four children who all have CMT, a muscle degenerative disease (similar to muscular dystrophy but not quite). There is no cause or cure and is genetic. --  (VINnews.com Courtsey of CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD) Arthur the father watches Tzvi 18 drive away as his sister Rivka 23 and mother Esther watch as well on June 21, 2015..  the parents (Arthur and Esther) have four children who all have CMT, a muscle degenerative disease (similar to muscular dystrophy but not quite). There is no cause or cure and is genetic.— (VINnews.com Courtsey of CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD)

Teaneck, NJ - The plight of the Teaneck family whose four children are all afflicted by a chronic, degenerative muscular disease may not have moved the hearts of judges in a contest to win a free handicapped accessible minivan, but their story resonated deeply with a Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist who has agreed to donate a van in order to provide the family with appropriate transportation.

The Herzfelds speak to VIN news Shimon Gifter on July 2, 2015

As previously reported on VIN News,  over the past ten years all four of the Herzfeld children have been diagnosed with unknown muscular condition, with one child completely unable to walk, two with extremely limited mobility and another who walks with difficulty.

Unable to afford a van that would accommodate all of their children’s needs, the Herzfelds cannot go anywhere as a family and loading the children, ages 14 to 23, into the family vehicle is a physically demanding task.

Esther Herzfeld shared her story in an annual contest run by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association and appealed to the public to vote for her in the hopes of winning the much needed van.

Touched by the story of the Herzfeld family’s difficult situation, prominent California philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz founder and CEO of Brius Healthcare Service reached out to VIN News just hours after the story was originally posted in May.  Rechnitz asked what he could to do help the Herzfelds and requested that VIN News notify him when the NMEDA contest winners were announced.

With over 90,000 votes, the Herzfelds found themselves with the highest number of votes and were named semifinalists in the contest, but ultimately, they were not chosen by judges to win one of the NMEDA vans.  VIN News contacted Rechnitz to inform him of the contest results and he immediately offered to sponsor the full cost of a handicapped accessible van that would accommodate the entire Herzfeld family.

Rechnitz was shocked that the Herzfelds, with four disabled children and the largest number of votes by far, were not selected as contest winners. 

“They may have lost the contest but in the end the Herzfelds still won,” Rechnitz told VIN News. 

Philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz founder and CEO of Brius Healthcare ServicePhilanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz founder and CEO of Brius Healthcare Service

NMEDA awarded  four customized wheelchair accessible vans:  one to someone over 60 years of age, one to a caregiver, one that is exclusively battery powered and can only be used locally and one in a general category. 

Marilyn Myers, an executive assistant at NMEDA explained the contest winners were chosen not by number of votes, but by how well semi-finalists matched their definition of “local hero,” either a caregiver or a handicapped individual whose story highlighted the positive and uplifting aspects of making the most of life with a disability.

“Everything is sent to a selection committee, who makes their decision based on criteria of the program and how close to the criteria they came,” said Myers.

Joe Balaban, general manager of Mobility Services in Astoria, Queens which manufactures para-transit vehicles, estimated that barring any unusual circumstances, it should take between five and six weeks for the Herzfeld’s van, totaling at just under $63,000, to be built.

A wheelchair accessible van is just one of many items needed by the family to make their house suitable for their children and Rechnitz, who overnighted a check for the full purchase price of the van, challenged members of the Jewish community to open their hearts and their wallets to better the lives of the Herzfeld family.

“Their needs are enormous and I am hoping that others will come through for the Herzfelds,” said Rechnitz.

Tzvi 18 is helped out of his chair lift by his father Arthur and watched by Tzvi's friend Joey Lazerwotz and his mother Esther.   --  CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORDTzvi 18 is helped out of his chair lift by his father Arthur and watched by Tzvi's friend Joey Lazerwotz and his mother Esther.  — CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD

Many in the Teaneck community were completely unaware of the Herzfeld’s situation until the contest began several weeks ago, according to the family’s rabbi, Rabbi Larry Rothwachs of Congregation Beth Aaron.

“People told me that they knew the family for years but never really knew just how much they needed,” said Rabbi Rothwachs.  “Others who don’t know them at all have approached me and asked how they could help.  There are so many things that need to be done in their home.  Bathrooms need to be updated.  The kitchen is really not accessible to the kids and even the light switches need to be lowered, all everyday things that most people don’t even think about.  It is almost like trying to fight a forest fire with a water gun.”

A fund has been established through the Bergen County United Way to help the Herzfeld family deal with their current situation and every dollar contributed will go directly to the Herzfeld family.  With many therapies and other essential items not covered by the Herzfeld’s insurance, the family still faces an uphill financial battle.

“Our needs are still very great and our debt is still very great,” said Mrs. Herzfeld, who added that her family is stunned by Rechnitz’s generosity.

“For us it is unfathomable,” said Mrs. Herzfeld.  “It touches us so deeply.  This is only something that could happen in the Jewish community, that someone would say ‘These people are cousins of mine even if I don’t know them and I have to help them.’  It is unbelievable.”

Mrs. Herzfeld expressed her profound gratitude to Rechnitz and to the thousands of people worldwide who voted for her in the NMEDA contest, all of whom were operating with the same sense of purpose:  to do everything in their power to help the Herzfeld family.

“We are filled with appreciation and amazement,” said Mrs. Herzfeld. “Mi k’amcha yisroel.  While the contest was still going on I said to my kids, ‘I don’t know what is going to happen with this van contest, but I have no doubt that Moshiach is going to come sooner because of the way people came out to help us.’”

Donations to the Herzfeld family should be made out to Bergen County’s United Way with the words “Herzfeld Family Fund” written in the memo line or on the face of the check.  Checks can be mailed to Bergen United Way, 6 Forest Avenue, Paramus, New Jersey 07652 or to Congregation Beth Aaron, 950 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, New Jersey 07666.

The Herzfelds pose for photo on Jul 2, 2015 at their home in Teaneck, NJ (Shimon Gifter/VINnews.comThe Herzfelds pose for photo on Jul 2, 2015 at their home in Teaneck, NJ (Shimon Gifter/VINnews.com
 Rivka 23 shows and talks about how she exercises with a ball that helps her with muscle development and function. Her father Arthur is behind her.    --  CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD Rivka 23 shows and talks about how she exercises with a ball that helps her with muscle development and function. Her father Arthur is behind her.  — CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD
 Esther and her son Tavi 18 as she helps him go downstairs on his chair lft.   --  CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD Esther and her son Tavi 18 as she helps him go downstairs on his chair lft.  — CHRIS PEDOTA / THE RECORD

 


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Read Comments (26)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:15 PM ffopinion Says:

Shlomo Yehuda is a tzadik! May u always have the ability to give BH!

2

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Thank you so much to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I have a question. With Teaneck being such a wealthy community, why did it have to be someone from outside the community who donated this money? The people in Teaneck see these children in their streets every day and in Shul on Shabbos. I do want to thank the person from Teaneck who started taking up a collection once we heard that the Herzfeld's didn't win, yet, I truly don't understand how the Teaneck community didn't do this. I'm sorry for saying these things, but it truly puzzles me.

3

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:26 PM j Says:

Wow that's called putting your wealth to good use! Thank you!! May hashem bless you. :)

4

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:29 PM Chaim! Says:

Shlomo Yehuda, u r a true Tzadik in every meaning of the word! I am very jealous of ur Oilem Haboh! You should be G'benched with only good!
And Mazel Tov to your daughters engagement

5

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:45 PM gezinterheit Says:

Mi Kamcha Yisroel !
Such a brave family .. They are REAL Heroes.
Wonder why they didn't win.
AND KUDOS to Mr. Rechnitz. A Yid A Tzadik!!

6

 Jul 02, 2015 at 09:54 PM sissel613 Says:

מי כעמך ישראל.....These are my cousins and I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am for them. When I read this article I started to cry. Thank you Shlomo Rechnitz for your kindness and huge heart. Those of us who love the Herzfelds know how much this help is appreciated.

7

 Jul 02, 2015 at 11:23 PM Hours Says:

Hat tip to the unsung hero of this amazing story.

8

 Jul 02, 2015 at 11:25 PM Lucky Says:

Kudos to Sandy Eller for bringing us this special story.

9

 Jul 02, 2015 at 11:26 PM Frish Says:

!!!!!שלמה המלך
'ישרא' בך אתפאר

10

 Jul 03, 2015 at 02:43 AM drmiddos Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Thank you so much to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I have a question. With Teaneck being such a wealthy community, why did it have to be someone from outside the community who donated this money? The people in Teaneck see these children in their streets every day and in Shul on Shabbos. I do want to thank the person from Teaneck who started taking up a collection once we heard that the Herzfeld's didn't win, yet, I truly don't understand how the Teaneck community didn't do this. I'm sorry for saying these things, but it truly puzzles me.

Good question! However, we should invoke the principle to be "dan lkav zchut"

11

 Jul 03, 2015 at 08:06 AM c Says:

It's a wonderful mitzvah to give tzedakah, and Mr. Rechnitz seems like a wonderful giving person. He is also very wealthy and any decent caring person in his position should help out like this. Does this in and of itself make him a tzadik? There are plenty of people who are far from tzadikim who give a lot of charity. I'm sure Mr. Rechnitz would agree.

12

 Jul 03, 2015 at 08:42 AM Anominous Says:

We all thank you very much. May Hashem bless you!

13

 Jul 03, 2015 at 09:01 AM omg1g Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Thank you so much to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I have a question. With Teaneck being such a wealthy community, why did it have to be someone from outside the community who donated this money? The people in Teaneck see these children in their streets every day and in Shul on Shabbos. I do want to thank the person from Teaneck who started taking up a collection once we heard that the Herzfeld's didn't win, yet, I truly don't understand how the Teaneck community didn't do this. I'm sorry for saying these things, but it truly puzzles me.

you are so right!!!
and even if the community (that i am a part of) didnt KNOW...they know now.....why arent these people stepping up?
There is SO much wealth here......but these people have their heads in the sand.....dont SEE whats right in front of them.

14

 Jul 03, 2015 at 09:56 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
drmiddos Says:

Good question! However, we should invoke the principle to be "dan lkav zchut"

I know. That's why it pains me so much. It's hard for me to understand it. I keep telling myself that maybe people who can are giving behind the scenes and we just don't know about it. But I must admit that it does bother me.

15

 Jul 03, 2015 at 09:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
c Says:

It's a wonderful mitzvah to give tzedakah, and Mr. Rechnitz seems like a wonderful giving person. He is also very wealthy and any decent caring person in his position should help out like this. Does this in and of itself make him a tzadik? There are plenty of people who are far from tzadikim who give a lot of charity. I'm sure Mr. Rechnitz would agree.

I like your comment. One other thing: there are people who are not wealthy and give just a little tzedakah who are also tzadikim. That is something that the Orthodox community should really be realizing.

16

 Jul 03, 2015 at 10:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Thank you so much to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I have a question. With Teaneck being such a wealthy community, why did it have to be someone from outside the community who donated this money? The people in Teaneck see these children in their streets every day and in Shul on Shabbos. I do want to thank the person from Teaneck who started taking up a collection once we heard that the Herzfeld's didn't win, yet, I truly don't understand how the Teaneck community didn't do this. I'm sorry for saying these things, but it truly puzzles me.

What a moronic statement. It's a shame that even when I read a great story somebody has to write something negative. Be like Mr. Rechnitz - just step up to the plate and leave the negativity out!!!!

17

 Jul 03, 2015 at 11:00 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
c Says:

It's a wonderful mitzvah to give tzedakah, and Mr. Rechnitz seems like a wonderful giving person. He is also very wealthy and any decent caring person in his position should help out like this. Does this in and of itself make him a tzadik? There are plenty of people who are far from tzadikim who give a lot of charity. I'm sure Mr. Rechnitz would agree.

He' a tzadick!!!! No and's if's or buts!!!!

18

 Jul 03, 2015 at 11:03 AM Esther Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

I like your comment. One other thing: there are people who are not wealthy and give just a little tzedakah who are also tzadikim. That is something that the Orthodox community should really be realizing.

Devaila,Hashem gave Mr. Rechnitz all that money AND he knows what to do with it.

19

 Jul 03, 2015 at 11:58 AM positvethinking Says:

Reply to #11  
c Says:

It's a wonderful mitzvah to give tzedakah, and Mr. Rechnitz seems like a wonderful giving person. He is also very wealthy and any decent caring person in his position should help out like this. Does this in and of itself make him a tzadik? There are plenty of people who are far from tzadikim who give a lot of charity. I'm sure Mr. Rechnitz would agree.

I can't imagine what tempted you to make such a comment! Mr Rechnitz's dedication to helping out Yeshivos, organizations, and families that need financial help is something extremely special. I'm sure there are hundreds of stories that you are unaware of where Mr. Rechnitz when above and beyond to help someone out.
For whatever reason you may not view him as a tzaddik but you don't have to contemplate it on a public forum.

20

 Jul 03, 2015 at 12:07 PM someonesomebody Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Thank you so much to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I have a question. With Teaneck being such a wealthy community, why did it have to be someone from outside the community who donated this money? The people in Teaneck see these children in their streets every day and in Shul on Shabbos. I do want to thank the person from Teaneck who started taking up a collection once we heard that the Herzfeld's didn't win, yet, I truly don't understand how the Teaneck community didn't do this. I'm sorry for saying these things, but it truly puzzles me.

I have no words on you .
First of all as the ppl in the community said that they knew the family but they didn't know how much help they need.

And in every Klal their a Yotzei Min haklal ...
Your the KORACH (קורח) of our Generation
16 min after the Article was posted and you were the first to come up with this Brilliant idea

21

 Jul 03, 2015 at 12:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
c Says:

It's a wonderful mitzvah to give tzedakah, and Mr. Rechnitz seems like a wonderful giving person. He is also very wealthy and any decent caring person in his position should help out like this. Does this in and of itself make him a tzadik? There are plenty of people who are far from tzadikim who give a lot of charity. I'm sure Mr. Rechnitz would agree.

I know many people that might have more money then Mr Rechnitz and didnt even think of speaking up .
And he said that if their not going to win the van he will sponsor a van
He didnt wait to hear the results that they lost the contest
He was willing to help before .

He gets Full credit
May hashem bless him

22

 Jul 03, 2015 at 01:18 PM aroza Says:

To #2.
There r people around with maybe as much money as MR. Rechenitz, who want to give to worthy yiddisher causes . However that alone is not enough to be zoiche to help A person has to have the zechus to do such a mitzvah . Reb. Shlomo Yehuda truly has earned that zechus by being the shining example of how a Bal Tzedoko should behave and simply put SECHAR MITZVA , MITZVA

23

 Jul 03, 2015 at 01:25 PM AhavatYisrael Says:

Dear Mr. Rechnitz: As you and your family prepare to celebrate Shabbat, please know that you have truly completed your weekly work by performing a generous task which made you a guardian of G-d's creation. Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful grace to you and your dear family. You are adorned by the two glorious crowns: "Zachor" and "Shamor" which represent the two attributes that enhance the Jewish community, and make the world a better place for mankind. -- Kol tuv.

24

 Jul 03, 2015 at 03:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
someonesomebody Says:

I have no words on you .
First of all as the ppl in the community said that they knew the family but they didn't know how much help they need.

And in every Klal their a Yotzei Min haklal ...
Your the KORACH (קורח) of our Generation
16 min after the Article was posted and you were the first to come up with this Brilliant idea

I thought long and hard about posting. I am not Korach. I was thinking about this even before the article was posted, as soon as I saw that they needed a van and were in the contest. And, I would like to believe, and do to a certain extent, that people are giving behind the scenes and we just don't know about it. I am only saying what other people are feeling. Politely and painfully. You do not need to call people names.

25

 Jul 06, 2015 at 02:37 PM Mellowyellow Says:

Reply to #13  
omg1g Says:

you are so right!!!
and even if the community (that i am a part of) didnt KNOW...they know now.....why arent these people stepping up?
There is SO much wealth here......but these people have their heads in the sand.....dont SEE whats right in front of them.

I'd just like to say that five years ago when we were in Teaneck before and during Pesach, we were overwhelmed the wonderful, kind hospitality shown to our family at a challenging time. We were generously offered accommodations and all the meals by strangers who quickly seemed like friends. We still feel grateful to the amazing Jewish community of Teaneck.

26

 Jul 06, 2015 at 03:31 PM Anonymous Says:

As Mr Rechnitz himslf pointed out, there are foundations owned by frum people that total billions-- yes, billions -- of dollars that have been deducted from taxes and earmarked to charity. WHAT EXCUSE IS THERE TO NOT DISTRIBUTE THOSE FUNDS TO YESHIVAs AND CHARITY. It's just plain "Rishus."

27

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