We all have dreams. Each of us has private hopes and aspirations, events and goals we like to envision in rosy detail on the fluffy wings of imagination.
I have sometimes thought that growing up with diabetes, we simply have more things to dream about. We picture "the cure", a magical potion of silver crystals, bedded in a haze of twinkling stars and shining, blinding ribbons and bows. Almost as enticing, is the vision of a day when the people around us will suddenly understand both the time consuming details of our condition and yet, how utterly normal we are despite it all. This was always a private wish, boxed and filed in that whimsical place in every person's mind boldly labeled, "Dreams".
This past Shabbos, Parshas Noach, seventeen girls with diabetes ranging in age from twelve to nineteen years, were granted a wish.
Coming from throughout New York, Passaic, and as far away as Denver and Montreal, they gathered in Monsey, NY, for a Shabbos of sharing, learning, laughter, and fun. The event was coordinated and led by Rabbi H. Meisels, masterful director of an invaluable Jewish organization, "Friends With Diabetes", and his wonderfully dedicated wife. As the participants later remarked, it was exciting simply to share a day with so many girls who faced similar trials, had identical concerns, and understood exactly what you struggled with on a daily basis. There was no need to find a private corner for testing blood sugars or administering insulin; almost every person in the room was doing the very same thing!
The program was loaded with exciting games, which triggered both thought-provoking questions and lots of laughter. At several opportunities throughout the Shabbos, the girls were treated to question-and-answer sessions on diabetes-related topics, with Rabbi M. providing expert information and advice. A highlight of the Shabbos was also a wonderful presentation by Rabbi Meisels using real-looking food replicas to teach participants to accurately estimate the carbohydrate contents of various foods.
There was plenty of spiritual inspiration as well. Rabbi Pinchas Yung, renowned principal of Bais Rochel school of Monsey, discussed the tremendous assets of achdus, drawing on points from the week's parshah. He also elaborated on the concept of empathy, as all participants of the shabbos were in a unique situation where they could truly identify with each other. He praised the remarkable accomplishments of the organization, particularly their wonderful publications, which are treasure troves of halachic and medical information.
Equally impressed by the vast accomplishments of FWD was a second speaker at the Shabbos, famed Monsey teacher and educator, Mrs. Herzog. Her twin themes were the timeless topics of emunah and bitachon. Using stories and examples, she reinforced the belief that Hashem only gives a person a challenge he/she can handle.
Beautiful, educational handouts and adorably coordinated gifts were not the only souvenirs of that unforgettable Shabbos. Those present have gained hands-on education, a refreshing outlook, and iy"h, everlasting friendships.
Perhaps most precious of all, seventeen girls have learned that sometimes, sweet dreams really do come true. It's comforting to know that we can still keep on dreaming. Friends With Diabetes will work their magic.
For more information on FWD, please contact Rabbi H. Meisels at (845) 352-7532, or RabbiMeisels@FreindsWithDiabetes.org, or if you wish to converse with other Jewish Diabetics even anonymously via email join FWD's discussion group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FriendsWithDiabetes/.