Peekskill Rabbi Runs To Cure Cancer

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Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe is one of the finalists for the Westchester Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year Award.
Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe is one of the finalists for the Westchester Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year Award. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a Peekskill resident, knows what it's like to battle cancer.

Jaffe, a four time blood cancer survivor, has been nominated by the White Plains-based Westchester Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for its Man of The Year award. The society has donated more than $1 billion to cancer research.

Jaffe, who is known as the Running Rabbi since he completed the New York City Marathon and did charity runs for cancer, is raising funds for the society to sponsor research to discover lifesaving drugs. Jaffe wrote a book "Why Me? Why Anyone" about his struggles with cancer and received the Award of Courage from President Ronald Reagan. 

The rabbi just completed five months of chemotherapy at Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt.

"I want to find new drugs that are not as injurious as chemotherapy," Jaffe said. "Chemotherapy has rough symptoms, it destroys the good and bad cells."

Jaffe praised Hudson Valley for their care, which he said saved his life twice.

"I'm an example of hope and survival," Jaffe said. "I never gave up."

Touring the country to give speeches, Jaffe helps people cope with cancer and tries to inspire them to keep hope alive.

"People call me and ask me to pray for them," Jaffe said. "I tell them to find something meaningful. Don't think of yourself as a disease, you are always a person and you always have dignity."

Jaffe said his bouts with cancer has made him appreciate life more.

"It's important to make every encounter with another human being meaningful," Jaffe said. "I ask people what their name is and I talk to them. I give them the feeling of worth and dignity."

Too many people blame God for the bad things, but don't thank God for the good things, Jaffe said. 

"I am thankful 20 times a day," Jaffe said. "It's very important that we can comfort one another when somebody gets sick."

For more information on Jaffe and his charitable efforts, visit www.runningrabbi.org

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