Miami Heat welcome dozens of ailing children for Jewish Heritage Night

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Miami Heat teamed up with South Florida rabbis, Tuesday night, to welcome dozens of ailing children and their families to a game.

Fifty families with children facing challenging illnesses, from cancer to a rare chromosomal disorder, took in the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Heat’s ninth annual Jewish Heritage Night.

Ten-year-old Meier Kagan, who has cerebral palsy, went to his first-ever Heat game at American Airlines Arena with his family.

Meier, as it turns out, is a little camera-shy. “Excited,” Meier said. “Now I’m worried about being on the news right now.”

But for his mother, Chana Kagan, every day feels like a miracle. “He has cerebral palsy, so sometimes it’s a little hard for him to get through the day.” she said. “But he pushes on. Nothing stops him.”

Rabbi Pinney from Chabad of Florida said thousands of people now celebrate Hanukkah with the Heat. “The event grows and grows every year,” he said, “and we have literally thousands of people coming to celebrate Hanukkah in this amazing venue.”

Even a small hospital procedure wasn’t enough to keep 13-year-old Ari Cohen away.

His father, Moshe Cohen, said they couldn’t miss out on this opportunity. “We don’t get to go out often,” Moshe said, “but when an opportunity like this comes up, then it’s an amazing opportunity for us.”

Chai Lifeline and Ishai Reinfeld of helped make the night happen. Reinfeld created a program called Stealing Hearts to give back to the community each December.

For Reinfeld, it’s a good cause that hits very close to home. “My grandmother had breast cancer, and so I know what that struggle is, living day-in, day-out in the hospital,” he said, “and so for us to be able to bring that to them, take them away, take their mind off of it, come see a game, come watch the Heat hopefully win, is a blessing. Fulfilling doesn’t begin to describe it, and they are the definition of a miracle.”

Rabbi Eli Lipskar of Rok Family Shul in Brickell said their 10th annual Jewish Heritage Night will be even better. “Wait ’til next year. We’ll always top the party,” he said.

Reinfeld said the Stealing Hearts program gave out Christmas gifts earlier in the month. He is hoping to expand the program to serve even more people next year.

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