Solomon’s Dream Is A Dream Come True For Chai Lifeline Children


Exactly one year ago, Solomon Obstfeld, z’l, benefactor of Chai Lifeline and great friend to its families, passed away suddenly. On the eve of his yahrzeit (28 Sivan), as his family, friends and colleagues prepared for commemorate the end of a year without him, hundreds of Chai Lifeline children and their families celebrated the kindness, munificence and generosity of spirit that marked his life at a huge children’s party sponsored by LH Financial Services.

“No one would have been more delighted that Solomon Obstfeld to see the joy in these children’s faces,” remarked Mrs. Faigy Yudkovsky, Chai Lifeline’s director of volunteer services, as children shrieked with joy on rides and competed in carnival games. LH Financial Services, the company Obstfeld headed until his death, had rented Victorian Gardens in Central Park for the afternoon to give children whose lives have been devastated by illness a unique opportunity for fun.

Instead of strollers, the park was filled with wheelchairs. At every ride, counselors and volunteers gently lifted children and settled them into boats, roller coaster cars, and swings. Then they climbed aboard, their non-stop energy eliciting peals of laughter from toddlers and teens. Counselors encouraged children to sing along to the Camp Simcha theme songs blaring from the DJ station as they waited for rides to begin.

A juggler roamed the park, stopping in front of two children resting on a bench with their mother. She pretended to drop her pins, and the children took turns giving them back. Each time she accepted one pin, another fell, and each mishap widened the children’s smiles. Their mother looked on, clearly relishing a moment where her children could forget about illness and just be kids again.

Popcorn, giant pretzels and soda were available throughout the park, and children took advantage of the opportunity to select anything and everything. Inside the park’s restaurant was a banquet for children and adults: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and salads.

“What a treat. Where else would these children be able to eat everything they want without a care?” asked Chai Lifeline presidium member Solomon Mayer rhetorically. Two boys strolled by, hot dogs in hands, on their way to the rides. Mayer beamed.

Suddenly the music changed, and first notes of “Waving Flags,” the anthem of the 2010 Camp Simcha boys’ session, came through the sound system. A boy began singing and dancing. A counselor, then another, then more campers joined him. Families gathered around, cheering the impromptu performance. Cell phone cameras were everywhere. People walking across the bridge overlooking the park stopped to watch, unaware that the star of the show just celebrated his first anniversary of completing chemotherapy.

A red-haired girl ran by with her counselor, her braces flashing in her mouth. She introduced herself to an adult as a Camp Simcha Special camper, one of 40 who had come from the Glen Spey, NY, campground with their counselors and a complete medical staff for the event.  “How is camp this year?” the adult asked.

“Amazing! Awesome! Chai Lifeline is the best!” she replied. The enthusiasm was reason enough for a hug from her counselor, and the two bounded off.

“It’s hard to imagine that he’s been gone for a year,” said Chai Lifeline executive vice president Rabbi Simcha Scholar, who was a close friend. “But he left our children an incredible gift. His life inspired others to undertake acts of generosity and chesed like this afternoon’s festivity. This event is part of a legacy of love and compassion that continues to benefit sick children and their families.”

Rabbi Scholar turned wistful. “Shlomo really would have loved this. After his own family, seeing Chai Lifeline’s kids so happy was the greatest pleasure of his life.”

Camp Simcha Special is named in memory of Zvi Dovid Obstfeld.

(YWN Desk – NYC)