Goldner, Rosenberg’s b’nai mitzvah project gains traction across nation
By Deborah Moon
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The b’nai mitzvah project of two Portland children has evolved into a national effort to reduce pain felt by children undergoing cancer treatments at Israel’s largest medical center.
Romi Goldner and Sam Rosenberg, who become b’nai mitzvah at Congregation Shaarie Torah Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, respectively, are raising money to buy entertainment centers for children undergoing treatment at Sheba Medical Center/Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv.
Romi is the daughter of Meirav and Ron Goldner. Sam is the son of Kim and David Rosenberg. Both are seventh-graders at Portland Jewish Academy.
What began as a letter to friends and family asking for donations in honor of their becoming b’nai mitzvah is now an appeal on the California-based Friends of Sheba Medical Center Web site (shebamed.org/projects/kids-no-pain.php).
“Romi and Sammy’s idea started out as a small project in the confines of their bar and bat mitzvahs and Oregon; however, as we move forward, with the advent of Internet and Friends of Sheba’s support, this ‘small’ project has legs,” said Jack Saltzberg, executive director of Friends of Sheba. “Who knows where it will end and how many children in the future will benefit from Romi and Sammy’s incredible altruism. … They are the next generation and the people who will carry the torch of support for Sheba and Israel into the future.”
Six years ago when Romi’s mother Meirav was being treated for breast cancer at Tel Hashomer, Romi saw children in wheelchairs and children without hair also undergoing oncology treatment.
“She was aware since an early age of what (cancer victims) had to go through,” said Meirav, who is now healthy and serves as Shaarie Torah’s in-house caterer.
So when Sam and Romi decided to team up on a b’nai mitzvah project, helping those children seemed like a natural fit.
“They’re kids,” said Sam. “Everybody needs help.”
Since Sam “becomes oblivious to everything” when playing Game Boy or watching TV, the two decided to name their project Kids No Pain, hoping that the entertainment centers they buy will similarly take the children’s minds off more serious things while they undergo treatment.
After sending out about 200 letters to friends and family, the two received $3,000, which they sent to the medical center to buy a large screen TV and DVD player. Sam’s father David Rosenberg said one of his Israeli cousins has pledged to buy a large supply of DVD’s for the children to use with the new equipment. And now with the appeal on the Web site, Romi and Sam hope more donations will roll in to entertain the sick children.
David Rosenberg said he was pleased with the youths’ decision to do a fund-raising project for their joint b’nai mitzvah project.
“I’ve always been involved in fund-raising—for Federation, for Ethiopian immigrants—and Kim’s been so involved,” he said. “So for Kim and I it’s a natural continuation to teach Sammy. It’s hard to ask people for money, so it’s a good beginning.”
The Rosenbergs and Goldners have a friendship that stretches back decades. David Rosenberg and Ron Goldner were high school classmates in Toronto and roommates in college at Hebrew University. The families visited each other when one lived in Portland and the other in Israel. When the Goldners moved to Portland three and half years ago, their children became fast friends.
Romi and Sam said they are proud of the impact of their project.
“I think the $3,000 will make the kids happy, or make them have less pain,” Romi said. “I think that’s really good.”
“It feels like we actually made a difference,” agreed Sam. “It actually matters in some people’s lives.”
Saltzberg agrees the two Portland youths have made a difference.
“Romi and Sammy embody compassion, selflessness and brotherhood, all traits on which Sheba Medical Center was founded by David Ben Gurion 60 years ago,” said Saltzberg. “Their spirit and good will inspires hope for the future. We will have a better world because of youth like Romi and Sammy.
Those wanting to contribute to the effort can donate online at or send a check to Friends of Sheba Medical Center, Attn.: Kids No Pain, 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Suite 1220, Los Angeles, CA 90035.