May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Bikur Cholim of Bergen County Marks Community Shabbat

(Courtesy of BCBC) Following a community-wide “Shabbat of Awareness” on May 11-12 for the Bikur Cholim Bergen County (BCBC), an overflow crowd gathered on Motzei Shabbat, May 12, in the home of Marcia and David Kreinberg. The goal was to continue sharing information about the infrastructure that has been developed and the many actions that are being performed to assist local patients and their families. BCBC responds to patient needs in the nearby hospitals of Hackensack, Holy Name, Englewood and Valley. During the past year alone, BCBC has provided over 700 hospitality stays in their Bikur Cholim apartments, over 100 rides for medical appointments, over 200 hospital visits, over 400 wheelchairs and other assistive equipment and over 3,000 meals. More than 750 hotline calls have been received, over 300 volunteers have joined and over 5,000 smiles have been shared, with hearts touched and spirits lifted. There are many grateful recipients who convey a single message about the critical work being done by our community’s Bikur Cholim: “We had such wonderful visitors…it’s really special what you do.” A husband and father of cholim expressed that when the bikur cholim volunteers are visiting with his wife, he is at greater ease near his daughter’s bedside knowing his wife is well cared for. As he stated, “Until someone recommended BCBC, I felt all alone.” The BCBC experience has uplifted him in so many ways and he “feels embraced and cared for by the Jewish community.”

Close to 200 people attended the event this past Motzei Shabbat, May 12, including community rabbis, volunteers, supporters and individuals eager to hear about the services of BCBC and find ways they can help. Meredith Yager, co-president of BCBC, outlined the services the organization provides for cholim both in and out of the hospitals. These services certainly include hospital visits but also provide assistance in navigating the hospital experience, which can be an overwhelming situation for anyone. More specifically, BCBC also responds to questions targeting particular needs of the kosher and Shabbat-observant patients at the hospitals. Mrs. Yager thanked the community’s rabbanim for their support of BCBC, with particular leadership from Rabbi Chaim Poupko, president of the RCBC and mara d’atra of Ahavath Torah in Englewood, along with its other rabbinical advisers, including Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger (Bergenfield) and Rabbi Michael Taubes (Teaneck), who field many of the questions that arise. Frequently, HUMC patients seek the guidance of Rabbi Ephraim Simon (Teaneck Chabad). Some hospitality inquiries may include an expectant mother who anticipates arriving in the hospital in the middle of a three-day Yom Tov or an individual arriving in the ER right before or on Shabbat and being told to go home while it is still Shabbat or Yom Tov. Knowing that these dilemmas can be resolved with the help of services offered by BCBC provides great relief.

BCBC has also developed a Shabbat arrangement with a taxi service to drive Bergen County residents needing urgent (non-911) medical attention on Shabbat or chag to or from the local hospitals. Specially trained drivers assist in opening car doors and carrying overnight bags, as some areas don’t have an eruv, with sensitivity demonstrated to the Shabbat-observant patient. Please refer to the BCBC website for pertinent details regarding this service.

BCBC runs multiple beautiful Bikur Cholim apartments in Hackensack, which require continuous upkeep, serving as a haven for patients’ families to be in close proximity to Bergen medical facilities during the week or for Shabbat/chag. Two of the four Hackensack apartments have been renovated and dedicated in memory of Chana Poupko, a”h, and these accommodations should serve as a merit in her memory. Many local establishments donate food and services that assist in the ongoing operation of these Bikur Cholim apartments. Mrs. Arlene Eis and her team tend to the specific needs of patients at Holy Name, and Mrs. Yager and Mrs. Gurell oversee operations at HUMC in conjunction with apartment coordinators Mrs. Esther Perl and Mrs. Hana Katz and reservations coordinator Mrs. Lydia Zuckier.

BCBC has become a true Bergen County communal effort, with so many people lending their talents and working together to care for the cholim of our community. Outside the hospitals, BCBC coordinates meals for families stricken with illness, home visits and attention to the homebound, as well as rides for individuals to and from medical appointments. Overseen by Rebbetzin Bassie Taubes, the BCBC runs a medical-equipment gemach for short-term and long-term use of wheelchairs and other devices that are always in need. Mrs. Tsipi Gurell, co-president of BCBC, expressed the feelings that are engendered through the many Bikur Cholim efforts, whereby patients experience that am Yisrael is right here with them in their time of need.

Please visit bikurcholimbergencounty.org to learn ways of embracing this mitzvah and to access information regarding all the services BCBC provides. For Shabbat hospitality reservations at Hackensack Medical Center and all other inquiries, please call the BCBC Hotline at 201-579-3066.

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