July 20, 2024
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July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Night Out for Chesed 24/7

About 250 people, many of them young couples, attended “A Night Out for Chesed 24/7,” an event held at Congregation Keter Torah, to support the work of Chesed 24/7. Though many have made use of the kosher hospitality rooms (or bikur cholim rooms) in hospitals, they are often unfamiliar with the organization that sponsors and maintains them. Chesed 24/7 provides an array of support for hospitalized patients and their families, including liaisons and the fully stocked rooms in 15 NY-NJ hospitals, as well as distributing the “Shabbos box,” a kit including Shabbos necessities.

CEO of Chesed 24/7, Dovid Weiss, described Chesed 24/7 as “an amazing organization that helps with what is often a logistical nightmare, a hospital stay, alleviating this stressful time by providing for [families’] basic needs.” He continued: “Think about what a hospital experience could be like when you have a liaison to guide you through complex health systems, or how depressed and lonely you might feel being hospitalized over Shabbos. Last year alone we provided 144,000 cups of coffee. A cup of coffee or a Shabbos box can make a huge difference.”

Attendees enjoyed a sushi bar and dairy buffet, with wine (sponsored by Kedem) and cheese tastings, a raffle, and a performance by mentalist David Blatt, who called the staff and volunteers of Chesed 24/7 “the real magicians.” The candlelit gala was sponsored by Calvary Hospital, and honored Dr. Michael Brescia, the hospital’s executive medical director. “Calvary, a Catholic hospital, had contacted us because they wanted a bikur cholim room for their Jewish patients,” said Weiss. “Dr. Brescia had a Jewish father and he has a Jewish heart.” Each year, Calvary cares for hundreds of Jewish patients, and collaborated last year with Yeshiva University to provide the observant Jewish community with information and options for end-of-life care in accordance with Jewish law.

Chesed 24/7 recognized Calvary for its efforts on behalf of the Jewish community, largely spearheaded by Dr. Brescia. “My introduction to Orthodox people was seeing the women bringing their kids with Tay-Sachs. Children treated at Calvary didn’t get bed sores because we would carry them,” said Brescia. “The Orthodox community comes to us because they think we’re giving them a gift. But I say: ‘You are the gift.’ Not only did they bring us their patients and loved ones, they brought us their Jewishness. All of us became revivified. I want to thank you for making me a richer, better person.”

Weiss thanked Rabbi Tzvi Miller, director of development for Chesed 24/7, and two women who made the event happen, staff member Devorah Adler and volunteer Esther Levie of Teaneck. “Tzvi works regularly until one in the morning, and Devorah will do anything in her power to help other people and to help Chesed 24/7. She introduced her Teaneck friend Esther to us,” said Weiss. “Both women are the personification of chesed, and have worked tirelessly to make this evening possible. We are grateful to them and to Teaneck for allowing us into your community.” Miller, who did not speak publicly at the event, said “the Teaneck community has really been receptive and generous, and it has been a pleasure getting to work with them.”

Levie, who oversees the stocking of all the chesed rooms, said, “Before Devorah, I hadn’t heard of them. But I’ve grown increasingly amazed at all they get accomplished. We need to continue to raise money and a broader awareness of Chesed 24/7 because while people know what we do, they don’t know who’s responsible. We need to buy food, paper goods, appliances… We have groups of women in Teaneck hosting parties to donate supplies, and we need even more people to continue helping with this tremendous mitzvah.”

As Chesed 24/7’s website states, “A hospital stay can be a lonely, frustrating, and exhausting experience. Every Jewish patient can rely on the constant support offered by Chesed 24/7 through our multitude of programs in hospitals throughout the tri-state area.” Hospitals served include Hackensack and Englewood Medical Centers, and Valley Hospital. The bikur cholim rooms provide a reprieve and resources for the thousands of cholim who frequent them. Chana Shields, one of the hosts of the event, added “having experienced firsthand the tremendous benefits of the Chesed 24/7 rooms in the hospital, I will be forever grateful. Until one is in that situation you cannot fathom the comfort you can get from a cup of coffee or a danish on a Shabbat morning and the strength it gives you to face the day.”

By Lisa Matkowsky

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