Baltimore, Md - Sept. 27, 2017 -On Tuesday evening, September 26, Bikur Cholim of Baltimore teamed up with Renewal for an Evening of Education on kidney donation, geared to help two Baltimore community members who are in crucial need of kidney donations.  An overflow crowd of over 300 people attended the event, which was held at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

The event was opened by Dr. Ronnie Samet, Vice President of Bikur Cholim of Baltimore, who thanked all for coming and showing their support, and introduced Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Rav of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.

Rabbi Hauer explained that the goal of the evening was to “open the door,” and provide community awareness on kidney donations. No one is obligated to donate his kidney, and we are not here to convince people to do so, Rabbi Hauer asserted. However, we can educate, and Hashem should help us see things clearly.

Rabbi Hauer also announced the names of local recipients and kidney donors who were in the audience, who stood up and were applauded, creating a powerful message to all there about their friends and neighbors who have donated life.

“May Hakadosh Baruch Hu give the Gift of Life to all of us, and especially to our cholim,” he concluded.

Rabbi Josh Sturm, director of outreach for Renewal, expressed admiration for the wonderful work of Bikur Cholim of Baltimore, and his amazement at the size of the crowd, insisting that Baltimore was living up to its reputation as a city of chessed.  “We are now between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,” he explained. “This is the time that we ask Hakadosh Baruch Hu for a wonderful year of life and good health. But what are we bringing to the table? So many can come and say, ‘I gave the gift of life to someone else. I offered my kidney to save a life.’ Those people must have powerful tefillos, as they have enabled someone else to have a second chance at living a productive life.”

Rabbi Moshe Gewirtz of Marlboro, New Jersey, animatedly related the story of his kidney donation, including the involvement of Renewal, which made everything run smoothly and provided him with total support at every step of the way. Rabbi Gewirtz described how elated he felt when he knew that he was saving the life of a young mother; even amidst his tremendous pain following the surgery, he was filled with intense joy knowing that he had saved a mother’s life. The audience was moved to tears when Rabbi Gewirtz read the letter written to him before the surgery from his recipient’s twelve-year-old son, who explained that he had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, and stated, “Thanks to you, my mother will be able to be with me at my bar mitzvah next year.” Rabbi Gewirtz asserted that he is now part of a very special club - a club of people who have donated their kidneys.

The event continued with a question and answer session in which Rabbi Sturm addressed many basic and not-so-basic questions related to kidney donation.  The final speaker was Rabbi Yissocher Dov Eichenstein, Rav of Mercaz Torah U’tefillah, who retold episodes in which he was involved where Gedolim encouraged donors to move forward with this donation of Life, and ended the evening on a high note. The crowd then moved to the social hall where light refreshments and testing stations were set up, and many were tested for compatibility. 

For more information on kidney donation, please contact Bikur Cholim of Baltimore, at 410-999-3700 or

Donor Ronnie Pachino

Recepient Harry Burstyn (L) with donor cousin Yossi Burstyn

The Bikur Cholim & Renewal Team