Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, who is also known as Rabbi G, has helped more than 5,000 children with cancer by teaching them martial arts.
The Michigan rabbi, who has a first-degree black belt in the martial art of Choi Kwang Do, believes that pain, fear, and stress caused by cancer can be relived through martial arts, meditation, and breathing exercise. Badass, right?
In 1999, Rabbi G founded Kids Kicking Cancer, a nonprofit that offers free classes to children as young as 3 years old who are battling serious illness, such as cancer. Recently, TODAY visited one of his classes, and interviewed some of his students–Nakia Thomas stated:
“Karate makes me feel stronger and powerful to myself and to everything I’ve been going through.”
Meanwhile, 8-year-old Lexi, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, described how the classes have taught her how to face the unknown with a sense of calm and purpose. She is now cancer-free and has earned a yellow belt. She told TODAY:
“When I power breathe, they really help me when I have to get like finger pokes. It’s where you have a needle, and they poke it in your finger and you wear it on your body. It’s something that makes the poke like you don’t even feel it.”
Rabbi G himself explained why martial arts are such “an incredible power,” stating:
“The children of Kids Kicking Cancer every day are teaching no matter what we face in our lives, we can respond with greatness.”
So, what was his inspiration for founding his organization? His daughter. His daughter, Sara Basya, died from leukemia in 1981 at age 2. While it is heartbreaking that he lost his child, it is admirable and inspiring that he created something beautiful and selfless our of his loss.