faces of israel

This week’s Faces of Israel feature focuses on American-Israeli Yehudis Schamroth, an inspiring example among many outstanding idealists who left comfortable homes in the Diaspora in order to live in the Jewish state.

American-born-and-raised Yehudis Schamroth, well-known in her community of Ramat Beit Shemesh and beyond, is not world-famous. But while she never strives for center-stage in the media, the profound difference that she continues to make in the lives of so many is fascinating.

As Rabbi Danny Myers, a local spiritual leader, randomly quipped at a recent charitable event hosted at the Schamroth home:

“There are two periods in the history of Ramat Beit Shemesh – pre-Yehudis Schamroth and post-Yehudis Schamroth.”

“Being a volunteer is in my blood,” Schamroth told United with Israel. “I learned it from my parents [Maureen and William Kindel of Buffalo, N.Y.] ,” who were always active in local politics and humanitarian causes.

“They were my biggest supporters,” she adds, in reference to her decision many years ago to convert to Judaism.

“In fact, my core Jewish values – doing acts of kindness and community service as an obligation – came from them,” she states.

A nurse anesthetist/acupuncturist with a demanding work schedule, Schamroth volunteers a significant amount of time to benefit worthy causes. For instance, she has used her medical knowledge to help out at Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross) and other notable institutions, and she makes time to educate the community on issues of health and nutrition.

Schamroth’s generosity and activism extend beyond professional expertise. Anticipating the needs of others and acting upon it without hesitation is a regular part of her daily routine; it just seems to come naturally. She has helped to raise funds for philanthropic groups and lobbied at the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) for better integration of immigrant nurses into the workforce, among numerous other activities.

Others have noticed and have been inspired. Thus, she has become the driving force behind a number of undertakings that began with a specific need.

For instance, in 2003 – as a new immigrant to Israel with minimal Hebrew-language skills – she helped launch a facility for children in danger of falling through the cracks. They were not special-needs students but required academic attention.

Other initiatives include organizing bridal showers for young couples with limited resources and assisting special-needs adults by finding them a niche in the community where they could be productive. Among the frequent events that take place at her home, including discussions on local issues and community celebrations, she often hosts Sabbath experiences for students from all over the world.

A recent guest for lunch at the home of this writer, Schamroth noticed the abundant leftovers and tactfully asked whether they would be used; if not, she knew exactly who could benefit.

“I’m very energetic and want to put my energy to good use,” she explains, quoting an aphorism of the famous Ba’al Shem Tov (Hebrew for Master of the Good Name), an 18th-century mystical rabbi and founder of the Hasidic movement: “Every single thing that a person sees or hears is an instruction to him in his conduct and in the service of God.”

In other words, Schamroth explains, “If you hear about someone who needs something, you were meant to hear.”

Schamroth’s husband Alvin, a prominent physician, is known for offering women in the community medical advice at no cost, among other philanthropic endeavors.

The couple has three children; their son Avi, 20, is an IDF soldier serving in the Egoz Special Forces unit of the elite Golani Brigade; Marni, 19, is performing national service at an elementary school in Jerusalem, and 17-year-old Hadassa, a high school student, volunteers at Magen David Adom.

Author: Atara Beck, Staff Writer, United with Israel
Date: Mar. 4, 2014