Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Litvak Polachek passionate about striking out leukemia

Claudia Litvak Polachek is grateful to be part of Montreal’s vibrant Jewish community. As the happily married mother of three and a noted community activist, she has made her presence felt her over the years via her involvement with a number of organizations. However, it was not for happy reasons that she and her family immigrated to Canada from Chili when she was only four years old.
Claudia Litvak Polachek

“My aunt was dying of leukemia and we came here to support her,” Litvak Polachek recalls. “Sadly, she lost her battle a year later. She was only 23 years old.”

Litvak Polachek’s nephew got leukemia when he was only six years old. While  he beat the disease and  is today a healthy 21 year old, her uncle was not so lucky. He was diagnosed with  leukemia eight years ago and passed away five months later.

Given the degree that leukemia has touched her family,   Litvak Polachek  has decided to focus attention in her role as Women and Science Chairperson of  Weizmann Canada to raise $110,000 for much needed equipment at the Weizmann Institute of Science  in Israel to further their important research on the disease.   As of this writing, more than half the funds have already rolled in. On Wednesday February 8 the Segal Centre for the Arts (5170 Cote St. Catherine) will be the site of an exclusive cocktail dînatoire and a special  presentation of  the play  Scientific Americans.

“I really hope we can reach the complete goal that night,” Litvak Polachek says. “We have choices in our lives. We can sit and fear that this disease will take another life from us or we can play an active role to help fund leading research in hopes of finding a cure.”

Litvak Polachek first became involved with Weizmann four years ago. She was immediately taken by the groundbreaking research being done on so many fronts. “I decided to take my committee in a new direction and not necessarily just raise money for  Women of Science. I asked our director, Susan Stern, whether I could marry my love for Weizmann and my commitment to do something for leukemia research and she gave me the go ahead. It turned out someone had pledged to build a room for leukemia research, but they needed the equipment. I knew then that I had found the right project.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project for Litvak Polachek has been the support she has received from husband Garry and her three children, Jacob, Nathanial and Hanna.  The boys are part of the B’nai Tzedek Program  for kids celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah to get a real idea of what tzedakah is all about. Money they received as gifts are set aside in a special individualized  Jewish Community Foundation Fund. Once a year, they choose what charity and/or Jewish agency they would like the accrued interest from their individual funds to go to.

“Jacob and Nathanial bought their own tickets for our fundraising evening from their B’nai Tzedek proceeds,” notes the proud mom. “I cannot tell you how special that made me feel.”
For more information about the event, called Claudia’s Hope for a Cure, call 514-342-0777  or log on to  http://itsinourblood.weizmann.ca/.

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