Modah ani lefanecha – I am grateful

“I have so many people to thank for this nes gadol, this great miracle,” says Leslie Kaufman. (Howard Sandler)

“I have so many people to thank for this ‘nes gadol,’ this great miracle,” says Leslie Kaufman. (Howard Sandler)

Leslie Kaufman, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s vice-president of corporate services, continues to recover from the lifesaving liver transplant surgery she underwent November 18, 2015 at Toronto General Hospital. In this piece, Leslie expresses her thanks to all who somehow contributed to her “great miracle.”

Modahani lefanecha, melech chai ve-kayam, she-hechezarta bi nishmati be-chemlah, rabah emunatecha.

I am grateful before You, living and eternal King, who has returned my soul to me with compassion. Great is Your faithfulness.

As the sun was setting on Toronto on a mid-November day, following eight hours in surgery, I opened my eyes to see my beloved husband, Sam Greenspon, standing over me. When my vision and brain cleared enough for me to realize that this was not one of my preoperative delusions, but, rather, the real deal, I was overcome with emotions. I cried. He cried. Our tears of joy blended on my cheeks as we rejoiced in the fact that I had received the gift of life in the form of a healthy liver.

I have so many people to thank for this nes gadol, this great miracle. First and foremost, I thank my anonymous organ donor. To be so generous to allow me to live, when she or he could no longer, is a gift for which I will be forever grateful.

No less than 100 doctors, nurses, orderlies, porters, technicians, physio and occupational therapists, volunteers, and other health care professionals have guided and protected me for the past year on this path to a new life.

Friends and family, in scores, have called, emailed, visited and kept my spirits up and my focus on the destination rather than the painful and ominous journey that faced me.

Strangers – fellow patients and their visitors with whom I shared countless hospital ward rooms, physio classes, elevators, and radiology waiting areas – were encouraging to me, as I was to them. We wished one another luck, we shared stories, we offered prayer, we smiled, we cried, and we knew that not all of us would make it in the end.

And for these gifts of care, faith, and strength, I thanked everyone along the way.

There is another larger group of people to whom I have not adequately expressed my overwhelming gratitude. That is YOU, the Ottawa Jewish community, who stood by my family and me, publicized my need for an organ donor, prayed for me, encouraged my husband, and bestowed boundless love.

Yet, that wasn’t enough for you. You enlarged your circles, reaching into other Canadian cities and towns for support and prayer. You opened your hearts and leveraged your resources for someone you haven’t known long and don’t know well. I have never felt so blessed and loved by a community.

But how do I properly thank you?

Chesed, acts of loving kindness. I am inspired by my employer, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation, led by CEO Andrea Freedman and her management team, of which I am proud to be a part. I am motivated by Rabbi Reuven Bulka, my cheerleader and spiritual guide during this journey. I am humbled by those who applied to donate a portion of their livers to me – and those, unknown to me, who were accepted. And I am grateful to the communities that helped and supported us. You “walk the walk” of tzedakah and tikkun olam.

So I shall honour you and pay it forward. As I write, the Federation’s annual Mitzvah Day (February 7) is quickly approaching and Kindness Week in Ottawa begins on February 13. As I am still in hospital, I can physically participate in neither this year. But, with a mobile phone and Wi-Fi, I can do many things:

• Increase awareness about organ donation (www.beadonor.ca), the Trillium Gift of Life Foundation (www.giftoflife.on.ca) and the living donor program at Toronto General Hospital (http://ow.ly/Xid69);

• Volunteer my time and my story with programs that support my liver disease, primary biliary cholangitis;

• In partnership with my husband, explore ways to provide mentoring to transplant patients and their caregivers;

• Establish a fund with the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation that will support some aspect of health care in our community.

Thank you, friends, for your love, support, kindness, and inspiration. L’chaim tovim u’lishalom.

5 Comments

  1. Maria Costa says

    Dear Leslie,
    How beautifully you express your experience and how brave you have been through this journey of that has brought you back to us!
    We love you and applaud you for your courage and inner strength.
    God bless you!
    Maria (Mary) costa

  2. Theresa Gaffney Overstreet says

    Dear Leslie,

    When I read this article you wrote expressing your experience, gratitude, kindness and love to everyone that has truly been there for you during all this.. it has floored me. I had no idea you were going through all of this. You were my friend in high school and it just didn’t seem possible. But I am so thankful to God that you have received a gift of life and have had such great support. I praise God for this. I’m happy you are doing good and this letter you wrote says what kind of a beautiful person you are inside and out. We already knew you were a kind person ! But you have more work to do on this earth for God’s Glory ! I pray that you continue to gain your strength back and show the comfort and love that God has shown you, to others. Your letter is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. Your friend, Theresa Gaffney Overstreet

  3. Donna Cosentino says

    Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. -Lamentations 3:23 Leslie, tears of joy here in the ‘Burgh. We are overflowing with thankfulness for His mighty hand of healing is upon you.
    I am the Lord that healeth thee. – Exodus 15:26 The years of your life shall be many (Proverbs 4:10) and You shall not die, but live, and declare My works.(Psalm 118:17) Yes, a great miracle indeed. May you continue to gain strength and love to you and yours during this time of recovery.

  4. Sarita Pearxe says

    What a beautiful piece, Leslie. You have always been such a warm, wonderful and altruistic person. I’m so thrilled to hear about your continued recovery. I think that many people who have faced a life-threatening situation, are changed by it and inspired to give back. But this has always been the loving person that you are. Mazel Tov .

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