BERGENFIELD, NJ — A female rabbi from Bergenfield has been bringing bears to Israel and other parts of the world to help those in need.
“Teddy bears don’t discriminate,” Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein said. "When people can’t get along, teddy bears show them they can."
Goldstein operates Bears From Bergenfield, a non-profit organization that has brought more than 162,000 bears to war-torn and impoverished areas around the world. She and a team of 10 others accept a number of toys and then distribute them.
Goldstein began her mission after then-10-year-old son was hospitalized. Fourteen years later, he's helping her collect the gifts from Hebrew Schools, churches, organizations and individuals.
Vietnam veterans repair any damaged bears before they are delivered to police departments and Bergenfield’s Head Start program.
“My friend got to the airline and our bags were over 50 pounds," Golstein said, "but they didn't charge us. We sent 58 pounds to Israel last week.”
In three weeks, she will make her annual pilgrimage to Israel for a bat mizvah with up to 1,500 pounds of toys in tow.
"There is a woman in Short Hills and her cousin is like a bear mobile drive," Goldstein said. "They meet, and then she picks up the bears and brings them to me."
A Teaneck man does the same, she said.
“It’s nice that there is this whole network out there that keep this ongoing. We’re all volunteers," she said. "For the kids in need, we call it soul-saving."
With 5,000 friends on Facebook, Golstein feels extremely fortunate.
“I’d like to thank the schleppers who are the teddy bear heroes,” she said.
MORE INFO: http://www.bearsfrombergenfield.com
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