Being able to share this inspirational story, brings happiness to my heart and soul. It is truly a story of courage, selflessness, caring about humanity, Tikkun Olam, chesed, and the very best parental role modelling. As the daughter-in-law of a kidney recipient, I know firsthand how the gift of life can positively impact a family.
Catherine Pearlman, a local mother of two well-grounded and caring children, was waiting for her coffee at Starbucks one morning. While waiting, she decided to read the noticeboard. According to Catherine, she was drawn to a flyer about a man who needed a kidney. From that moment on, Catherine felt like she was being guided. Everything just flowed.
Without consulting her family or friends, Catherine went straight to her car and completed the online health questionnaire. Slowly, Catherine began an email exchange with the wife of the recipient, who was very respectful. She was concerned about getting too close to the recipient in case it didn’t work out. Over time the relationship developed. As Catherine learned about the recipient’s family, she felt really good about the type of people they were and that she had the opportunity to help him.
Once Catherine was approved as the donor and had a surgery date, she began to tell people. Everyone was very supportive. The fear that she may one need a kidney for a family member was assuaged when she learned that if she needed one she would go to the top of the transplant list. There is even a new program that would a donor’s family member get a kidney.
It has now been a month since the surgery and Catherine says she’s feeling great. She even told me that a few days ago she woke up in a bad mood. She felt her scar and immediately her mood changed. She realized that she had donated a kidney and saved someone’s life. This reframed everything for her and her mood immediately lifted.
I have closely watched Catherine and her husband Jeff parent their two children. They have raised them to be complete mentschen who give back to society, help others, and trust their instinct to walk away from uncomfortable situations. Their role modeling is authentic. They truly walk the talk. Her son has said that he would donate a kidney in the future should someone need it. Catherine told me, “When you give, you get so much more back. It’s pretty amazing.” Catherine truly is pretty amazing herself. According to the Torah, “Whoever saves a life, saves the world,” and that’s exactly what Catherine Pearlman did!
SUE PENN, THE DIRECTOR OF CONGREGATIONAL LEARNING AT UNIVERSITY SYNAGOGUE, IS KNOWN FOR BEING AN INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE EDUCATOR. SUE SITS ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR JFFSOC AND SOMEONE CARES SOUP KITCHEN. SUE IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES WHICH ALLOW EVERY INDIVIDUAL TO LEARN AND ENGAGE IN COMMUNITY.