Bella Stern’s Math Lesson


Bella Stern’s math lesson: When you have less, give away more and the total will increase.
It’s a tried and true method, says Mrs. Stern. It works every time. Mrs. Stern is past seventy and paralyzed from the waist down due to polio which she contracted as a child. She moves around with heavy leg braces on crutches. Many people who knew her from phone conversations are shocked when they meet her in person, never realizing the challenging physical condition she endures with such cheer and optimism.
Since early childhood, she has been surrounded by giving. Her parents are holocaust survivors who shared the little they had with others. She imbibed their lessons from infancy.
Fifteen years ago, it was suggested that Mrs. Stern volunteer one hour a week for Ezer Mizion. She accepted but instead of one hour, her volunteer hours span a complete day every day of the week both for Ezer Mizion and for her private pet projects. What does she do? A better question would be: What doesn’t she do?
 She organizes Bar Mitzvah celebrations for children of indigent homes– every detail from start to finish.
 Weddings for destitute couples fall into place with every specification arranged to perfection under her capable and never-tiring hands.
 Needy families receive an ongoing supply of household equipment at no cost, courtesy of Mrs. Stern’s vast range of benefactors that can’t say no to this dauntless coordinator who herself will never say no to anyone in need. (Peak periods of aliyahs from Ethiopa or Russia are her busy seasons.)
Feeling exhausted just reading about her activities? We may be tired but she doesn’t stop there.
 Creative as always, she has named one of her favorite projects: Fishing Kits. Poverty-stricken new immigrants with no capital to their name will receive equipment to enable them to become self-sufficient and earn their own livelihood. Some examples are sewing machines for women and costly tools for men.
One wouldn’t think that she has much spare time but Mrs. Stern finds pockets of time for whatever is needed and manages to also carry out her role of spokesman for the “Disabled-Accessible Community” in the Petach Tikvah area with the aplomb of a healthy woman half her age.
“The whole concept of volunteering simply flows in my blood” she says, adding: “Giving is a kind of ma’aser hama’ashir – a tithe of time that enriches the person rather than taking something away. Volunteering is my vitamins. It’s what keeps me going. You wouldn’t expect a car to go without gas, would you? Giving is my gas,” quips Bella just as her phone rings with yet another request for help. “Good morning. How can I help you?” her cheery voice sends her trademark of love and warmth flowing through the wires.
For further info: ezermizion.org

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