“You know what they say about Israelis — that they are always late. We did it right: We made it here on time!” 24-year old Israeli athlete Tom Peled told the guests at the October 22 Israel Cancer Research Fund annual Barbara S. Goodman Scientific Awards & Donor Recognition Evening , held at the Jewish Museum. Peled had set out three months earlier from Los Angeles on a cross-country bike ride called “Bike for the Fight” to raise $100,000 for the ICRF in memory of his father, Rami Peled, who lost his life to cancer at the age of 58.
From the stage, Peled introduced his mother, who flew in from Israel and had biked the last leg of the journey. Israel’s superstar entertainer David Broza said: “I witnessed the start of this… incredible marathon out of Tel Aviv when I performed for the kickoff of this project. I vowed to be here in New York when they arrived.” Perched on a stool, guitar in hand, Broza performed the song “It’s All or Nothing.” “This is what I think Bike for the Fight gave” he said — their all. His finale was a rendition of “the first song I ever recorded, the 1977 international mega-hit ‘Yehiye Tov’’ [“Things Will Get Better”]. Its last verse is, ‘We shall learn to live together under the olive trees… and the children will grow up and know no more war, no terror, no frontiers….”
In the audience were BFF bikers — Peled,Eran Rozen, Roey Peleg** and Luca Seres. With arms around each other’s shoulders, they swayed side-to-side, singing along as if at a campfire. Guests linked arms and joined in singing the refrain. For a moment the museum’s elegant ballroom seemed transformed into an Israeli coffee house. Broza, head thrown back, fingers flying across the frets, ended the gig with a shout: “Bike for the Fight!”
In his address, Kenneth Goodman, event chairman and co-chairman of the Israel Cancer Research Fund and co-chairman Israel Cancer Research Fund, said that the IRCF event was established in memory of his first wife, Barbara Goodman, who died of pancreatic cancer. “At the time of her death,” Goodman said, “life expectancy was six months. After 10 years of research, the life expectancy is now one and a half years and the five-year survival rate is still 5%. I am hoping that the research being done by so many of you in memory of your loved ones will result in continued progress of our battle against this ruthless disease.”
“We work with one patient at a time and try to save that life,” said Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, ICRF president and chairman emeritus. “”We started in 1975 with $25,000 —$5,000 for each of five scientists. This year…76 grants totaling $2,730,000.00. As for grants, year-to-date total: $45 million.”
ICRF’s national executive director, Eric Heffler, who had introduced Peled following clips from a forthcoming documentary of the trip by filmmaker Seres, said, “Not only did they cross the United States, but they spread the word about cancer research in Israel all over the U.S. and Israel and in Toronto, Canada, to communities large and small that would not have known about it.” The four BFF bikers were presented with “golden medallions” in “gratitude for this great achievement.”
At the “Meet the Breeds” showcase of purebred exotic cats and purebred dogs, held on October 21 at the Javits Center and sponsored by the American Kennel Club and the International Cat Association, “I chanced upon the booth of the Canaan dog, the national dog of Israel. Bryna Comsky, an officer in the Canaan Dog Club of America, told me she once owned a Canaan dog whom she named Dreydl. That dog’s photo was part of a montage of Canaan dogs on the wall of the booth. Comsky told me about the founders of the modern breed Dr. Rudolph Menzel and his wife, Rudolphina. Menzel, who settled in Palestine during the 1930s and, as noted in the breed’s CDCA profile, “recognized the value of these natural dogs and their desire to accompany and befriend their human masters.” They re-domesticated the Canaan dog. Comsky gave me a copy of the CDCA’s publication The Canaan Kibitzer.
Comsky, who now lives in Chicago, told me that her uncle Samuel Bonchek, an American Jewish Labor Zionist, had been national vice president of Farband, a fraternal organization that later became the Jewish National Workers Alliance (Yidisher Nazionaler Arbeiter Farband). Dreydl came from a litter from the Spatterdash Kennel, in Emmaus, Pa. Comsky’s father had been a landscape architect for New York City under Robert Moses (who was known as the “Master Builder”), “climbing trees for a living for the New York City Parks Department.” She told me that Harry Golden (humorist and author of “Only in America,” World Publishing Co.,1959) “took two Canaan Dogs to America” and that there are now 300 of the breed in the United States, with Canaan dogs in England and Scandinavia.
According to the CDCA profile, .Canaan dogs make excellent family members.