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Dedicated in memory of my great Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Yechiel Dovid ben R' Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel Trenk Zt"l

Mayer Zuckerman | Lakewood, NJ

Mayer Zuckerman

Bike4Chai is about Chai Lifeline’s child cancer warriors. But children are not the only ones who get cancer. This year I’m dedicating my campaign to my great Rebbe, Rav Dovid Trenk Zt"l. While it began as a merit for Rebbe's recovery, sadly Rebbe just lost his battle with cancer! May all the donations be an everlasting merit for his great soul!

While my connection with Rebbe stretches back close to 40 years, I’ve written a small essay to outline my early encounters with Rebbe. It’s a bit of a long story but I encourage you to read it all. While Rebbe was a cancer warrior, he has long since been a warrior battling for his students!


My Rebbe

On a Friday in early October 1981 I found myself on a bus traveling on Route 9 in New Jersey. I was 16 years old and was really way out of my comfort zone. I had started the morning with a subway ride from my home in Brooklyn to Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal where I boarded a bus headed to Adelphia, NJ. I had never traveled alone this way and really had no idea where I was supposed to get off the bus. I was waiting for the bus driver to tell me when it was my stop.

The purpose of my trip was to spend a probationary weekend to see if I would be interested in attending the Adelphia yeshiva. Perhaps more importantly (not that I looked at it that way), the hanhala (faculty) would see whether the yeshiva would be willing to accept me. At the moment, I was still a student in Yeshiva of Staten Island although it was clear that I had worn out my welcome and unless I found a new place on my own…

When I finally got off the bus, I made my way across Route 9 and was walking through what seemed like a really big parking lot headed to Drug Fair. I had been told to use a payphone in the store to contact someone for a ride to yeshiva. As I neared the store, I spotted a small yellow Toyota rapidly weaving its way around the parking lot. Before I knew what was happening, the car pulled up beside me and huge man with a long black beard sprang from the car and in a booming voice greeted me with a warm “SHALOM ALEICHEM!” That man, was Rav Dovid Trenk. And unbeknownst to me, I had just met the person who, above all others, would have the greatest influence on my life!

Before the weekend ended, I KNEW that this was the place for me. Adelphia was exactly the type of place that was willing to help a boy like me and I was accepted into the yeshiva. As the semester began, I was often not where I was supposed to be and broke many rules. Maybe I should say I was sometimes where I was supposed to be and actually complied with some of the rules! I had many corrective interactions with Rabbi Trenk, who I now viewed as my beloved Rebbe.

When I would go home for weekends, I would frequently be very oppositional and difficult. My parents would often find themselves at wits end and they would phone Rebbe for advice and encouragement. On one occasion when I was being particularly difficult, my mother called Rebbe and was pouring out her heart. Suddenly, Rebbe told her that he needed to hang up. Somewhat over an hour later, the doorbell rang. To my mother’s surprise, Rebbe was at the door. He came to my room and talked to me for 10-15 minutes. He then got back in his car and drove back to Adelphia. REBBE MADE A TWO AND A HALF HOUR TRIP TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES WITH A STUDENT WHO NEEDED SOME GUIDANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT!!

Some months later it happened. The event that changed my life. The incident that impacted me so strongly that it turned me from a rebellious teen slipping downward to a young man that was on the path to recovery.

It was a Shabbos afternoon and in front of several other students I acted out in a way that was utterly unacceptable. Truthfully, I had committed an offense that would have seen me ejected from most yeshivas. I did it in a thoughtless, uncaring way, perhaps for shock value. I then went back to my room, dismissed the whole thing from my mind and promptly forgot about it.

On Sunday evening, I was downstairs in my room when a fellow student came to tell me that Rebbe wanted to talk to me. I proceeded to the Beis Medrash (study hall) and waited for Rebbe to finish talking to another student. With no inkling as to what was about to happen, I approached Rebbe as soon as he was free.

Rebbe turned to me and said “Someone told me what happened on Shabbos afternoon. Why Mayer, why?” As I looked into Rebbe’s face, I could see great sadness and disappointment. I found myself tongue-tied and Rebbe didn’t say another word. I left the Beis Medrash and went downstairs. The tough teenage façade totally cracked and I went to a private place and cried and cried!! Even now, as I write this nearly forty years later, tears roll down my cheeks!! The greatest possible calamity had happened!! I had disappointed my great Rebbe!!

In that moment, my life changed! Rebbe did NOT yell at me. He did NOT punish me. He did NOT expel me (as would certainly have been justified). He only showed me love, compassion and his belief in my goodness. And THAT was probably the only thing that could have reached me!!

Who has such a Rebbe!? Where else can you find such greatness!?

Yet, my story is not unique. Many of you reading this have had your own encounters with Rebbe. Rebbe changed the lives of THOUSANDS of students! And now, with Rebbe gone, please give generously to honor his memory and elevate the soul of Rav Menachem Yechiel Dovid ben (son of) R' Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel Zt"l. Your donation helps to fund Camp Simcha, a remarkable overnight camp that provides seriously ill children with a vacation from sickness, restoring their spirits and renewing their determination to fight.

Life for a child with cancer or other serious illness is grueling; Chai Lifeline’s flagship programs, Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special, offer 430 children a chance to forget about illness and just be kids again. Camp is an oasis of fun, of joy, and of peace for children experiencing dark and turbulent times. To learn more about Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha special, visit campsimcha.org.

This year’s ride is even more thrilling than past years’ rides: it’s a landmark ride, the 10th Bike4Chai! I will depart on the two-day ride of a lifetime to camp on Wednesday, August 14, 2019. My objective is to raise $10,000 by then, and I hope you will help me reach this goal. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Please contribute by clicking on the donate button now.

Thank you for supporting me and, in doing so, helping children and their families cope with the diagnosis, treatment, and aftermath of serious pediatric illness.

Best Regards,
Mayer

PS. For more information regarding this ride please visit bike4chai.org

Day 1

Day 2

Comments

$12,189.92
raised of $11,500 goal
 

Donations

$900.00
1. Esther Zuckerman
L'zecher Nishmas Rabbi Trenk, who had such a profound impact on our family
$540.00
2. Rookie Zuckerman
THIS IS BIG! 10 years for Bike4Chai, 7 years for Mayer Zuckerman! I am so amazed at your perseverance and fortitude! Keep going strong!!
$515.00
3. Esther Zuckerman
To kickstart your campaign... Good luck on the ride!
$500.00
4. Tova Zuckerman
I love you. Good luck on the ride!
$500.00
5. Anonymous
Cory2020
$500.00
6. Anonymous
Member of

Team Lakewood

$1,183,737.53
$1,200,000

Fundraising History

Total Amount Raised since 2013
$60,820.73
$10,255.00
raised in 2018
$11,165.80
raised in 2017
$8,462.00
raised in 2016
$7,026.01
raised in 2015
$5,673.00
raised in 2014
$6,049.00
raised in 2013
115 donors