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A Coke and a Smile

Hello everyone,


I am back in Detroit, adjusting to the time and catching up on some work. There are still many stories that I look forward to sharing with you about some amazing people, their journeys, self-sacrifice and experiences and the time I was blessed to be able to spend with them. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, some are both.


This post is about appreciation for some things that most people take for granted. Before I left the orphanage in Berlin and headed to Odesa I asked if there was anything specific that I could do, or get for the children. Mende and Mushky thought about it for a bit (I will introduce them to you in another post – They are an amazing young couple who had the weight of the world dropped on them – and they are carrying it exceptionally well).  They said that the children love Coca Cola as a special treat.  With most of the meals they serve water, tea and coffee. Not soft drinks. For special occasions they will serve soft drinks from large bottles. But the children get really excited when they get their own can of Coke. So I went out with my new buddy Dennis (you will learn a little about him later as well) and I bought 200 cans of Coke. We brought them back and I asked them to please give them to the children and everyone else as a special Shabbat treat since I would be in Odesa for shabbat.

After leaving Odesa I headed back to Berlin for the evening and was then to leave early the next morning for the airport and back to Detroit. I am not a big sharer of feelings but on the flights from Chisinau and Warsaw back to Berlin I was a bit melancholy. Not sure of another word to describe it. Having that quiet time on the plane to reflect on the week, thinking about what all of these people have not only gone through but are going through every day with not identifiable end date is sad.

When I got back to the orphanage, Dinner was just starting. As I walked in I asked Mende if the kids enjoyed their cans of Coke on Shabbat. He said they did not give it to them. They decided to wait for me to come back and see if I wanted to hand it out at dinner. That is what the video below shows. It was just what I needed. I have never switched from sadness to pure joy so fast. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and the excitement and gratitude they had, just to receive their own can of Coke was beautiful.  It is amazing how something as simple as a can of Coke that most people take for granted can bring joy to those who are going through such a difficult time. A can of Coke is cheap and smiling at someone is free. We can all make a difference everyday, even if all we have to give is a smile.

Thank you for following. Please share this with others so we can continue to spread awareness and provide aid and comfort.


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With its deep roots and extensive reach, the JRNU has been providing food, medicine, and other aid to more than 35,000 people each month, not turning anyone away. To further offer hope, aid, and with G-d’s help, gather more supporters, I will be spending the next week working with the JRNU in Berlin (at the temporary location for the Odesa orphanage), and in Odesa. I will share their stories and your encouragement along the way.


Unfortunately, the crisis in Ukraine is not going to end any time soon. Even after the war is over, the humanitarian needs will continue for years to come. The good news is, we can help. By coordinating our efforts we can bring continued hope and support to those in need. I hope you will join me in keeping the Detroit Jewish community engaged in these necessary relief efforts.


I welcome your comments.

For more information on the amazing work being performed by the JRNU, or to donate to the JRNU, click HERE. To donate, you can click on the Detroit Campaign for Ukraine.


To Support the Odessa Orphanage click HERE.

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