Our Health, Our Wealth, and our Loved Ones

Cancer Research UK Charity Shop at

11 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

Professor Joe Goldblatt

Mama gathered my sister and I each Friday night in the front window of our small home to light our Jewish Sabbath candles. Unlike today, when many Jewish people are afraid to publicly display their Judaism, Mama proudly placed our Sabbath candalabra in the front window to share our Sabbath joy with others.

She then lit each of our three candles and their flickering flames were reflected in the glass window in front of us. The crisp scraping sound of mama striking the wooden match was followed by her waving her hand to extinguish the flame. Then she covered her eyes with both hands, lit the three white candles, and recited her prayer in Hebrew and English “Praised by thou who commanded us to celebrate the sabbath.”

As mama lowered her hands and opened her eyes she then said, each and every week, “Thank you for our health, our wealth, and out loved ones.”

One night as a cheeky six year old I asked Mama why she always thanked the almighty for our health first, even before our modest wealth, and our loved ones. Mama kneeled in front of me and looked me straight in the eye and said “Joe, if you do not have your health, you have nothing.”

I am not sure that, after only recently suffering from chicken pox at six years of age if I fully appreciated her explanation as at that tender age a child is somewhat sheltered from poor health. On those rare occassions when I was unwell with measles or a flu, I quickly recovered. When Mama suffered from a benign cyst upon her neck and was taken to hospital for an operation she soon recovered at home. For most children, health is something that we often take for granted.

Perhaps that is why I have been greatly impressed with the great outpouring of love for a seven year old friend who is suffering from leukaemia. When I was a young child my eight year old friend Karen Adams suffered and quickly died from leuakemia. Now, children who are her age, thanks to life saving drugs developed over the past sixty years, statistically have a 95 percent opportunity for full recovery.

Despite this good news, a leukaemia diagnosis is still a shock and a hard journey for parents and they may feel very much alone and frightened as they spend long nights sleeping in a small bed next to their child in hospital. That is why I have been greatly heartened by the outpouring of love, prayers, and generosity of treasure to provide comfort and support for this precious child and her family.

Each week I volunteer at a Cancer Research UK Charity shop where many others who are responsibile for their return to good health.

Some mornings, especially on a rarelScottish sunny day, we have fewer customers and therefore fewer donations. However, any day I walk out of that small shop I imagine that one of the purchases or donations could be a small part of the eventual cure for once deadly cancerss. I suppose this is how I in my own small way I stand up and speak out to help wee ones such as my friend who is now in hospital bravely battling childhood leukaemia.

I often think of Mama when I accept a donation from a customer and I know that she would appreciate and admire my focus on using my remaining days on earth to promote good health. After all, health is paramount and precedes both wealth and loved ones in terms of importance in our lives.

That night many years ago, as Mama kneeled before me explaining her priorities in prayer, she further said “Wealth may be regained, relationships with loved ones may be repaired, however health once is lost it may be gone forever.”

Our mother wisely knew that we need to get our priorities right in life. That is why right now in my dialy morning prayers, the first name I mention is a wee girl in hospital and I put my prayers into action each Saturday morning by collecting a few pence and pounds to help her and hopefully many others.

Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University. His views are his own. For more information about his views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot If you would like to support Cancer Research UK please visit https://donate.cancerresearchuk.org/donate

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