An overflow crowd filled the elegant Ohel David & Shlomo hall in Manhattan Beach last Sunday, December 11, for the Annual Dinner of BINA Stroke and Brain Injury Assistance. Honored at the gala event were Dr. Jeffrey Farkas, Director of Neuro-Intervention at NYU Lutheran Comprehensive Stroke Center, recipient of the Healthcare Leadership Award, and Mr. and Mrs. Yossi Tyberg who were presented with the Community Inspiration Award. Family, friends and colleagues of the honorees, and admirers of BINA’s lifesaving work, were present to demonstrate their immense esteem and appreciation.
The program was opened by Rabbi Elchanan Schwarz, LMHC, Director of Crisis Intervention of BINA, who welcomed the gathering and gave a brief overview of the organization’s services. He then introduced Mr. Avi Schron, member of BINA’s board of directors, who spoke forcefully of BINA’s position as a unique organization with a clearly identified mission that is not being filled elsewhere.
Mr. Schron explained that BINA assists not only the individual who had a brain injury but also their families, because “it’s not a single individual involved; it’s the family members – father, mother, sister, brother, spouses, children who now have to learn about a life that they had not known before.” BINA helps people who are going through a very stressful period in their lives to move on and put their lives back together. Mr. Schron ended by declaring that a great deal more must be done to help people with brain injury, and asked everyone present to increase their support of the organization.
The first award was presented to Dr. Jeffrey Farkas by Dinner Chairman Mr. Yehuda Hoffner. In a brief audio-visual presentation, Dr. Farkas thanked BINA and disclosed that he usually shies away from such honors but had no choice but to accept an award from such a fantastic organization. Dr. Farkas declared that the “work that they do and the work that we do go hand in hand in taking patients from the acute stage of brain injury and moving them along the pathways to health. There is no other organization, in my opinion, that is as important as BINA in guiding and providing care for families.”
Mr. Moshe Caller, member of the Host Committee, then called upon Mr. Yossi Tyberg for the presentation of the Community Inspiration Award. Mr. Tyberg spoke on video about his family’s experience with brain injury, stating that most people don’t know what brain injury is unless they have someone close to them that has been injured or sustained a stroke. He praised BINA’s “unreal demeanor and approach” and appealed to the audience to support the organization to the best of their ability.
The proverbial pin drop could be heard during the gripping and emotional presentation of guest speaker Mr. B.Z. Weiss. Recalling the shock and turmoil experienced by his family after his teenaged daughter’s stroke eight months ago, he kept the audience spellbound as he recounted how the hours, days and weeks unfolded in its aftermath. He described the confusion and obstacles they faced in their quest for the best rehabilitation plan and the conflicting opinions and advice with which they were presented by leading specialists around the country.
In an emotional declaration, Mr. Weiss stated that “my wife and I were in a forest and couldn’t find our way out of it. We (would) sometimes get to a crossroads but didn’t know where to go…there was only one person that we were able to turn to, talk to and bounce off our ideas…Chavie Glustein of BINA. Chavie has opened doors for us…she is the person who through experience can best advise what to try and what she thinks will work best.”
Elucidating on the Birchos Hashachar that are recited every morning, Mr. Weiss asked why “Ha’nosain la’sechvi bina” which thanks Hashem for giving the rooster wisdom to differentiate between day and night, was chosen as the first blessing. Furthermore, why is the rooster singled out from other animals that can also distinguish between night and day? He explained that the rooster crows not at dawn, but right before dawn, when it is still dark, to tell us that the light is coming even if you can’t yet see it. We thank Hashem for allowing us to recognize that even when we’re still shrouded in darkness, daylight is coming.
“That’s where we are now, my wife and myself and my family,” concluded Mr. Weiss. “We are lost in the forest and it is pitch black…Only through BINA did we realize that although it’s dark, the rooster is crowing…and the sun will come out.”
The program concluded with Divrei Bracha from Harav Elya Brudny shlit’a. He praised the founders of BINA who took a nisayon given to them by Hakadosh Baruch Hu and were energized to use their experiences for the benefit of klal Yisrael. Rav Brudny called upon the crowd to “redouble our efforts to make this amazing organization available to do what only they can do and to be able to do their work b’shlaimus.”