When offered the choice of receiving a substantial gift for her Bas Mitzvah or using the money to sponsor a life saving device for her school, one child opted to get the defibrillator.
Two years ago, Montreal resident Shmarya Plotkin started a project aimed at putting defibrillators in each Jewish school in Montreal, and training the staff of each school in CPR, First Aid and other life saving techniques.
Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electric current, often called a countershock, to the heart with a device called a defibrillator. This reestablishes the body’s natural pacemaker, potentially saving lives.
A few weeks ago, Plotkin started training Beth Rivkah staff in first aid, defibrillation and CPR. He started looking for someone to sponsor at least one defibrillator for the school although in reality each school needs at least three of them. Defibrillators cost somewhere in the range of $1,500-$2,000.
Plotkin approached his friend Ari Schwartz and asked if Schwartz would be willing to help sponsor a defibrillator for Beth Rivkah. When Schwartz told him that his daughter Esty’s Bas Mitzvah was coming up, Plotkin suggested he sponsor in honour of his daughter.
“He responded that it was a great idea and he might take the money he would have put toward the Bas Mitzvah and use it for the defibrillator, but he would have to ask his daughter for her input,” said Plotkin.
Schwartz sat down with his daughter that evening. “I asked her if she wanted a nice gift valued at the cost of a defibrillator or if she would prefer to donate a defibrillator to the school,” he recalled. “She immediately said that she’d rather get the defibrillator.”
Shortly after the Bas Mitzvah, Plotkin purchased the defibrillator with the money donated by Esty Schwartz and installed it in Beth Rivkah with Principal Rabbi Yosef Minkowitz present, along with Ari and Esty Schwartz. After the installation, Plotkin offered to give Bas Mitzvah girl’s entire class a free course on first aid, CPR and defibrillation in honour of her gift.
“As an instructor for the heart and stroke foundation, we realize how defibrillators are vital pieces of equipment with enormous potential to save lives in schools, homes and public spaces,” said Plotkin.
“Unfortunately, the public doesn’t realize just how important it is to have defibrillators in schools,” he stressed. “It’s amazing that a twelve year old girl is willing to take the money she got for her Bas Mitzvah and put it toward a defibrillator for her school,” he continued.
“As a parent, this makes me very happy,” said Ari Schwartz. “She left a good example and hopefully others will follow her lead and do this as well.”