Joshua Pasternack & Maddie Ellinghaus
We are able to sustain our free cancer support program because of the generosity of individual donors. Today we’re sharing the stories of two young people who chose to support Gilda’s Club NYC through their Mitzvah projects. The first is Joshua Pasternack’s bar mitzvah, followed by Maddie Ellinghaus’ bat mitzvah. We asked each of them to share in their own words why they chose to benefit Gilda’s Club NYC at these milestone moments in their lives. We hope they inspire you as much as they did us.
For my bar mitzvah project I am asked to do some form of tzedukah which is a Hebrew word that means charitable and giving. I chose Gilda’s Club NYC as my bar mitzvah project because this charity provides support for cancer patients and their families. I chose to donate to Gilda’s Club NYC in honor of friends and family that have had cancer: my Aunt Nettan, my cousin Irwin and family friend Howard. Sadly they have passed away and I think that by donating to Gilda’s Club NYC, it is a nice way to honor them. I provided the link to my family and friends in my digital invitation and many friends and family made donations in honor of my bar mitzvah.
The reason I chose to support Gilda’s Club NYC for my Bat Mitzvah project was because I love Gilda Radner. I have watched all of her old SNL skits and I saw her documentary, Love, Gilda, on Hulu. She reminds me of myself and she inspires me to reach my own goals. I love how in any situation she can make herself and the people around her laugh and escape reality for even just a second.
And that’s how I want to spend the rest of my life — by bringing joy to others through comedy and entertainment, and helping people live happy lives. When I learned about Gilda’s Club NYC, I was so amazed that Gilda’s Club NYC, even after she died, could continue to make an impact on people. I know that cancer is a terrible disease and it affects not only the person with cancer, but also their family and friends. I think it is amazing that Gilda’s Club NYC helps so many people find joy and happiness even through cancer.
I raised funds for Gilda’s Club NYC through my sweatshirt sale and I hope that money helps lots of cancer patients and their families. When my parents and I were researching Gilda’s Club NYC, we learned that there are several locations. I wanted to support the NYC club because I love that city so much and I know it suffered a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, my parents met in NYC and we have a lot of family who live there. I hope to one day live in NYC too, and like Gilda, be a comedian and entertainer.