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Monday, October 27, 2008

"HaKesh BaDelet"

Every year, children from schools throughout Israel participate in a campain known as Mivtza HaKesh BaDelet ("Operation Knock on the Door").

Trust me, it sounds a lot better in Hebrew!

Mivtza HaKesh BaDelet is a national fundraiser for The Israel Cancer Association.

Kids from religious, and secular schools, go in pairs (or more), and knock on doors, collecting money. There are advertisements on radios, TV, buses, etc, promoting the campaign, and it is quite effective. Thousands of children are involved in collecting money and raising cancer awareness.

Though Israel is a very "reward" oriented society, there are no "rewards" for collecting the money. Yet the children are enthusiastic, and polite. And, when I great them at the door, I am proud to be Israeli.

The first year that I had a child participate (way before I was ever diagnosed), I wondered about our kids wandering alone, going to strangers' homes. A parent, whose child was not her oldest, reassured me, and encouraged me to join the cadre of parents with blind faith. ("just close your eyes, and pray for the best!")

My child came home way past dark. Needless to say, I was hysterical. The other mother was not. She calmly reassured me that our kids would come home... eventually. It turned out that our kids were eager to collect as much money as they could, and nobody had bothered to tell them that they should go home by a certain time, whether or not they were finished "their" (assigned) area.

Two years later, when my son was supposed to participate, we had a conflict. I suggested to my son that he go with a friend the next day, but he was adamant about participating with the rest of the school. I consulted with the school staff, and they encouraged me to alter our plans and allow him to participate with the rest of the school. We did, and I could see that it was the right decision. It was important to him.

This year, many of the parents from my youngest daughter's class, did not permit their children to participate. Some had their children collect from their own neighborhoods, in areas designated for other schools. Some children simply did not participate. Some parents were worried about their kids going out alone. Some parents felt there were better ways for their kids to be volunteering, and/or more valuable organizations that the Cancer Association.

I was disappointed that her class would not be experiencing the same group experience as my other kids' classes. I tried to encourage the parents, as I had been encouraged, but there were too many of them. And the anxiety had grown to an irreversible measure.

I wondered if it would have been as important to me had I not had cancer. During our email discussion, I refrained from mentioning to the parents that I have cancer. Some know, but not everyone. Since it is important to my daugher to be normal, I did not want to make any more of a big deal about it than I already had.

When my daughter came home, the first thing she said to me was "no one came!" Afterwards, I learned that about a third of the class participated. So, "no one" would be a bit of an exageration. But I was saddened that that was her impression.

This year, all three of my kids participated in the campaign. They were all excited to share their experiences. (OK, my son was more interested in reading his book, but he did put the book down to answer my questions...)

Interestingly, my eldest insisted that she and her partner finish before dark, whereas my younger two kids both came home after dark (they called in advance, to let us know of their intention to collect until early evening).

I was proud of my kids, for taking the task so seriously, and working so hard.

I hope that next year, my daughter's class will participate more.

One in three people will have cancer at some point in their lives.

This is not some "fringe" issue.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

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