Jews make up less than one-quarter of one percent of the world’s population. We are a total of about fourteen million.

Pharaoh was the one to call us a “nation.” If you recall, Jacob’s family of seventy people went down to Egypt to escape a famine. There they grew quite large and Pharaoh feared the group (now hundreds of thousands strong) would become a threat to Egyptian society. So, he mandated ways to enslave and persecute them. That was around 3150 BCE. From that time on, Jews have bobbed, weaved, bounced back, tried to blend in and reimagined themselves even as they faced extinction from the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Crusaders, Spanish, Nazi Germany, and Soviet empires. Somehow we survived it all.

Although those empires are gone, today’s rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and increase of anti-Zionism are disconcerting. There are 2.1 billion Christian followers around the world; 950 million Hindu; and, yes, 14 million Jews… less than one-quarter of one percent of the world’s population. About half of us, live in the United States. Wherever we are, we can be snuffed out any time.

*     *     *

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a refreshing and welcome distraction over the past few weeks.

I am thrilled that people around the world have been willing to invest ten minutes of their time to make a video of ice water being dumped on their heads. The posting of the videos on Facebook and You Tube have inspired others to do the same. And being able to giggle and laugh at yourself and others – for a good cause – feels great. The power of this viral marketing cannot be beat! More importantly, it has been gratifying to see that those who are too chicken to embrace the challenge are willing to donate to find a cure; even better, it’s terrific that those with cold, wet heads are eager to do the same.

I had heard of ALS, but the current focus made me curious to learn more about it. I didn’t realize, for example, that approximately thirty thousand people in the United States currently live with ALS. Now, think about this…thirty thousand is about half of one percent of the Jewish population in the U.S. THAT’S a small number. Comparing that with the 1.6 million people expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, it’s no wonder that ALS doesn’t have enough funding for research to find a cure!

I have watched numerous videos of people stricken with ALS and can’t help but cry. I had no idea how horrible this disease is. I had no idea how short the life expectancy of these patients’ is. I laugh through tears as they also take on the Ice Bucket Challenge and squeal with the shock of the cold water. I’m glad I accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge.

As a Jew, I feel compelled to root for the underdog and help in any way possible. In a summer that’s been full of war, fear, frustration, trauma and sadness, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (#ALSIceBucketChallenge) is a painless and wonderful way to learn about an issue, get involved in a personal way, engage others, and give hope to those to don’t have it.

According to the ALS Association, as of today, they have received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during this same time period last year (July 29 to August 21). These donations have come from existing donors, as well as 739,275 new donors to The Association.

Awesome. Simply Awesome! It would be fantastic if this truly helped find a cure now. And I did my part. Have you?

To learn more about ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and to donate, click here.

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