As the Ice Bucket Challenge continues its viral march through social media platforms, members of the Jewish community have joined wholeheartedly in the effort designed to raise money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder that currently has no cure.
Participants in the challenge are filmed dousing themselves with ice water while nominating others to either follow suit within the next 24 hours or make a donation to ALS research.
It comes as no surprise that the Jewish community has embraced the opportunity to help those stricken with ALS. Videos of bearded rabbis, women in tichels and entire families joining together to take the challenge have been popping up everywhere, with one video from Israel showing a young man rushing to finish his challenge as air raid sirens start to wail as he prepares to dump water on his own head.
The Wednesday night wedding of Chaya Dinerman and Mendy Kreiman in San Diego was the site of one mass Ice Bucket Challenge, with numerous donations rolling in for the Hurwitz Family Fund, benefiting the family of ALS sufferer, Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz.
“It was spontaneous,” says Rabbi David Smoller of Chabad of S. Diego. “Someone said let’s get ten rabbis to do the ice challenge. Ten of us took buckets of ice cold water and dumped it over our heads and many people in the audience sponsored money at that moment. The caterer, Morris Derry, was the one who brought us the water and the buckets and he did it with us, too.”
Rabbi Hurwitz, a father of seven and the Chabad Shliach to Temecula, California, was diagnosed with ALS last winter. A group of five Chabad rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Fogelman, administer the Hurwitz Family Fund.
“He deteriorated very quickly so we set up a fund to take the responsibility for supporting them,” explained Rabbi Fogelman.
Rabbi Hurwitz, who can no longer speak, communicates only with his right hand, using an iPhone to text friends and family and to continue posting weekly divrei Torah on his blog, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com.
“His spirit is amazing,” said Rabbi Folgeman. “He is an incredible human in a strangely difficult situation.”
According to Rabbi Fogelman, the Hurwitz family has been enjoying the Ice Bucket Challenges. “It is very uplifting to them and makes them feel good,” he said.
“It means that people know about them are thinking about them. People should know that doing the challenges is meaningful to those who are dealing with this condition.”