Cancer Survivor Wins Trip of His Dreams

by | in Inside the OU

“I never won anything in my life,” says Ken Ulfeng, 67, of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. But that didn’t stop this retired electrical engineer/entrepreneur from entering the OU Israel Trip Giveaway—and winning. On September 30, Ulfeng will get to live out his longtime dream of visiting the Holy Land. “I am so thrilled; it’s such a blessed thing to have happened to me,” he says.

The news came at the right time. Ulfeng had just completed treatments for malignant melanoma and had recently discovered his passion for Judaism. “I became aware of my Jewish identity when I started fighting cancer [two years ago],” he says. “I realized time could be very short.” Ulfeng is one of three Jewish families living in Elkhorn. In the midst of his spiritual search, he discovered OURadio, www.ouradio.org, and became an ardent fan. “I have OURadio on my computer constantly,” he says. “Most of my Jewish knowledge comes from the OU web site.”

Hungry for more, Ulfeng started learning Hebrew and driving eighty-four miles to Albany Park, Chicago, every Friday to enjoy Shabbat with observant friends from his old neighborhood.

A devoted husband, Ulfeng was married for over four decades before his wife, Dorothy, passed away in 2004. “We had talked about going to Israel [together],” he says. “That is my one regret.”

It’s been a tough few years, but Ulfeng’s friends tell him winning this trip has done him a world of good. “My dog knows something is up,” he says. “I’m walking around the house singing.”

In addition to winning a free round-trip ticket to Israel provided by Israir, Ulfeng will enjoy an all-expenses-paid stay at the luxurious OU-certified Renaissance Jerusalem Hotel, as well as a tour of historical sites, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

In the meantime, Ulfeng is waiting anxiously for his passport, making arrangements for a caretaker for his ninety-pound Siberian husky and brushing up on his Hebrew. “I’m still pinching myself over the wonderful news,” says Ulfeng. “[At this point] I’m looking forward to just being there.”

Every six weeks, the OU, along with its online sponsors—Israir, Renaissance Jerusalem Hotel and Nefesh B’Nefesh—offers a free trip to Israel. For more information on this contest, visit www.ou.org.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Fall 2007.

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