Finding Light after Loss // Two mothers, a generation apart, met under tragic circumstances and forged a connection that helps others

By Devorie Kreiman

Meir Greenfeld was a few months past his bar mitzvah, in 2003, when he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a rare form of blood cancer. When Meir heard his diagnosis, the first thing he said to his mother, Miriam, was, “If this is what Hashem wants, we’ll accept it.” The next thing he said was, “Does Tatty know? How will he handle this?”

The Greenfelds are members of both the Vizhnitz and Satmar communities. They live in Boro Park. As Meir’s friends discussed their plans for summer camp, he chimed in, “I’ll be going to a different camp; it’s called MSKCC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Throughout the years of treatments, relapses and hospitalizations, Meir found ways to give to others. After his first transplant, he met Frumy Horowitz, who heads the Bein Ish Ubein Uchiv organization; Bein Ish offers physical, emotional and financial support to families dealing with serious illness. Frumy told Meir about a mother from Eretz Yisrael undergoing a lung transplant whose son and daughter were both engaged. From his hospital bed, Meir wrote a letter and sent it to as many people as he could think of. He raised $22,000 for that family.

Once, a nurse asked Miriam, “How are you so positive? Aren’t you angry at G-d?” Miriam explained, “When you view the front of a tapestry, you see a beautiful picture. But if you turn it over, you’ll see knots, tangled threads and loose pieces. That mess is what’s in front of us, but G-d has the finished picture. I think about that, and I feel hopeful.”

Meir managed to hold onto his sense of humor. Just before his hair fell out, Miriam brought him to the sheitelmacher to fit his kappel with peiyos. He was sitting in the sheitelmacher’s chair, in front of the mirror, when he got a phone call. He picked up and said, “Sorry, I can’t talk now. I’m at the sheitelmacher.”

Rabbi Binyomin Eisenberger visited Meir and asked to speak to him alone. He asked Meir if he knows what’s going on, and Meir said, “Yes. I’m prepared for what will be, and I accept it with ahavah. I know it’s from Hashem. But I still have hopes of getting better. I want to be a Bein Ish volunteer one day.”


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