July 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Bikur Cholim of Bergen County Hosts First ‘Unite in Tefillah’ Gathering

Meredith Yager and Tsipora Gurell, co-chairs of Bikur Cholim of Bergen County, were delighted at the enthusiastic turnout of more than 250 participants for their first “Unite in Tefilla” gathering held on Sunday evening, May 19, at Congregation Keter Torah. Despite the many other concurrent events in the community, the attendees were drawn by the cause, the uniting in tefillah on behalf of cholei Yisrael in our immediate and extended community.

Yager, of Bergenfield, welcomed the assembled and began the program by thanking Rabbi Yosef Adler, her “rebbe” at Hillel Yeshiva High School in Deal, New Jersey, and a great influence in her life, for agreeing to address the community on “The Power of Community Support to Critical Illness: A Personal Reflection.” In elucidating the work of the Bikur Cholim of Bergen County (BCBC), Yager shared that the current organization is relatively young, having been initiated in 2014 and incorporated in 2016. Today it mainly serves the community in two very specific areas: transportation and visitor housing.

BCBC provides transportation for those with limited mobility to doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions, food and other necessity shopping and other appointments. Lori Frank serves as the volunteer coordinator who arranges these transports, together with a committed list of volunteer drivers who designate specific days and times to this activity.

When patients are being treated at the four local hospitals, including Hackensack Medical Center, Englewood, Holy Name and Valley Hospitals, family members may be in need of housing so they can be available to the patient. For Shabbat stays close to Hackensack Hospital, two apartments in the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Building, on the grounds of Hackensack Medical Center, which were donated to BCBC by the hospital and renovated by the Englewood community in memory of Chana Poupko, z”l, are maintained and fully stocked with Shabbat food and necessities by BCBC. In addition, the organization is renting two apartments at 170 Prospect Avenue for use by visiting families. BCBC maintains the apartments, pays for utilities, supplies all necessary amenities and stocks the kitchen with non-perishable food as well as fresh Shabbat food when needed. Visitors come from as far away as California and Atlanta to visit hospitalized family members and are so grateful to be housed in pleasant accomodations near the hospital that are available to them 24/7. Yager shared that this past year the apartments have been occupied constantly. The management of the two beautifully furnished apartments is overseen by Teaneck residents and BCBC volunteers Hana Katz and Esther Perl.

This past Pesach, BCBC was gifted with a grant of Pesach food and services by 17 vendors including Cedar Market, Chabad of Teaneck, Cinch, David Katz, DDS, Dougie’s, Dovid’s Fish, Five Star Caterers, Glatt Express, Grand & Essex, Greenhill Industrial Supply, Judaica House, Ma’adan, Noah’s Ark/Shelly’s, Poppy’s, Sammy’s Bagels, Shoprite in Englewood and Paramus, Valet Laundry in Little Ferry and World of Goodies. These abundant provisions were shared with Holy Name and Englewood Hospitals as well as the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Saddle Brook. Yager urges the community to support these generous vendors.

In introducing the keynote speaker of the evening, Rabbi Yosef Adler, mara d’atra of Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Yager underscored that the key mission of bikur cholim is the continuing and sincere prayer of the community on behalf of those undergoing illness. She expressed her gratitude in advance to Rabbi Adler for agreeing to share his very personal experiences before, during and after his receipt of a kidney and how the community’s prayers were so meaningful to him in his recovery.

Beginning with the admission that personal reflections are not “my usual style,” Rabbi Adler began his presentation with a dvar Torah, after which he detailed his illness, which began two years before his actual kidney transplant during his pre-testing period, when he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. After treatment he underwent the kidney donation, which went seamlessly in March of 2016. However, the following Shavuot he found himself hospitalized again. The next hospitalization occurred in August and lasted two months. During that hospitalization he was asleep many hours of the day and was not up to receiving visitors or even speaking on the phone. However, he felt the tremendous support of his wife Sheryl, children, congregants, members of the community and even old camp friends. His greatest gift during those difficult months was a huge scroll, which he unrolled and revealed to the audience, that contained the names of over 600 individuals who were learning Shas on behalf of his recovery. This document and the people behind it were his greatest source of comfort. For him it served as a palatable demonstration of the concern for him by the broader community and got him through those dire times. Rabbi Adler thus urged that our efforts at bikur cholim must be accompanied by prayer and learning on behalf of the choleh in order to be meaningful and effective.

As the gathering was taking place following Pesach Sheini, Rabbi Adler concluded with the lesson that only korban Pesach was afforded a second chance, if the individual was not able to bring it during the Pesach holiday. This is because the underlying rationale for korban Pesach was to bring the nation together in support for each other. Similarly, the Bikur Cholim of Bergen County brings the community together in physical and spiritual unity, through hospitality, visits, transport and, of utmost importance, constant prayer on behalf of the cholim.

To learn more about the activities of the Bikur Cholim of Bergen County, and to sign up as a volunteer, visit www.bikurcholimbergencounty.org� or call 201-579-3066.

By Pearl Markovitz

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles