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September 1, 2012

Since I began writing this Everyday Heroes blog one year ago, I have been amazed by the number of heroes we have among us. I have written about military heroes like Roy Benavidez, Chris Holland, Dennis Weichel, and Dolly Skeet; about citizen-heroes like Antonio Diaz Chacon, Rhonda Carlsen, and Tori Smith; and even about a black bear whose perseverance and courage were examples for all of us. This month, my Everyday Hero is citizen-hero Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg.

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg’s 2-year-old daughter, Sara Basya, lost her battle against leukemia over two decades ago. The bravery that little Sara showed during her ordeal with cancer proved to be Rabbi Goldberg’s inspiration. He would be the first to tell you that he isn’t the hero. The hero was little Sara.

“She went through the most painful things,” the rabbi has said, “and she’d pat me on the back and say, ‘It’s OK, Daddy. I love you.’ So she definitely was our inspiration and continues to be our inspiration.”

Goldberg has come to be known as “Rabbi G” — an unlikely “action hero” for hospitalized children.

The rabbi remembers walking up to a little boy suffering through chemotherapy. He told the boy, “You know, I’m a black belt. His eyes bugged out.” Goldberg said to the child, “Do you want me to teach you some karate?”

Apparently, those were magic words to that boy, because he almost jumped off the table. When the nurse removed the needle from the boy’s arm 20 minutes later, he looked up at her and said, ‘Did you do it yet?’

“That’s when Kids Kicking Cancer was born,” the rabbi says. Kids Kicking Cancer teaches kids that they are in control of their disease; that, through the martial arts, they hold all the power.

“We’ve had kids who are on active morphine, who ask the nurses to unhook them so they can go the karate class, then come back and they don’t need (the morphine),” the rabbi relates.

I can only imagine the emotional trauma of watching your child suffer through the pain of a disease like cancer. Let alone losing that child to the cruel tentacles of the disease. I would be the last person to criticize a parent for losing purpose, for never getting over the loss of a child. But Rabbi Goldberg never lost purpose. He accepted his own pain and loss and used them to nurture hope in other sick children. He has made a huge difference to many sick kids and their families.

Goldberg ends his classes with the words, “Power. Peace. And purpose.” Words that have special meaning for his students and himself.

Everyday Heroes are those who make a positive difference in other people’s lives. For that reason, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg is my Everyday Hero this month.

For more information about Kids Kicking Cancer, go to


Joseph Badal is the author of thrillers, including  The Pythagorean Solution, Terror CellThe Nostradamus Secret and Evil Deeds.  His newest novel is Shell Game.  Joe lives in New Mexico, is married, and is the father of two sons.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert Badal permalink
    September 3, 2012 12:12 pm

    More great stories about people who make a difference.

  2. Susan Paturzo permalink
    September 5, 2012 5:48 pm

    I love stories like this. It’s nice to be reminded that there are real heroes in our midst.

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