April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Bikur Cholim of Raritan Valley Honors Community Doctors

(l-r) Lois Goldsmith, Dr. Aliza Leider, Cindy Baruch and Dr. Arkady Broder.

Nearly 300 people from the communities of Edison, Highland Park, East Brunswick and beyond attended the annual Bikur Cholim of Raritan Valley’s annual fundraising event held at the Pines Manor in Edison.

Master of ceremonies Mitchell Rottenstreich opened the evening by sharing a dvar Torah he had heard regarding what is said at the arrival at the end of a book in the Torah. “‘Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek!’ Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened! Bikur Cholim gives support to the whole community and beyond, and we provide the strength to Bikur Cholim.”

Many felt a bit of discomfort about attending such an event during a time of unsettling events in Israel. Milton Erdfarb of Highland Park said, “Despite what is going on in the world, I am excited to join the extended community in celebrating the great works of Bikur Cholin of Raritan Valley.” The discordance was addressed by Rabbi Sariel Malitsky of Edison’s Congregation Ohr Torah in his address, saying that there is a need to balance the entertaining portion of the evening with the seriousness of the work done by Bikur Cholim and the situation in Israel.

Attendees Lee Ann and Jeff Schein of Edison and Ken and Naomi Shlian of Highland Park.

He went on to note several reasons why it was important to continue with the event and not postpone it to a later date: “Bikur Cholim is an important organization that gives chizuk (strength) to others and gets people involved in helping others; it is permissible to have a good time as it is needed for maintaining our mental health that we can smile as we cry; and there has been an explosion of unity among the Jewish people and in charitable deeds in the community and around the world. The melave malka dinner is a fine opportunity to honor those that help and inspire others to get involved. Bikur Cholim is there whether pain is caused by Hamas, a car accident or a tumor. They are there to cover all aspects of aid — from hospital visits, rides to the doctor, babysitting while parents are at the hospital. These deeds should serve as a merit for the Jewish people and Israel.”

Attending the event with her husband Ralph, Rochelle Dessau of Edison said, “It is important to support the wonderful things Bikur Cholim does. While we are all affected by events in Israel, this is an important fundraiser.”

The guest speaker was Rabbi Leib Klein of Lakewood, who movingly spoke about his first-hand experience with Bikur Cholim after his family suffered a car accident. “Nobody needs to tell me how wonderful this organization is, I have personally seen it. You should be proud of your community and all the good that it does.” Rabbi Klein listed specifics about how helpful the community had been to his family both in the hospital and in the guest residence they operate. “We are created in the image of Hashem and we have the ability to give as well as to take. To activate Hashem’s kindness, we have to act in a merciful way and Hashem will reciprocate in kind.”

Mitch Rottenstreuch, MC.

Bikur Cholim co-presidents Cindy Baruch and Lois Goldsmith briefly spoke about new initiatives Bikur Cholim had initiated over the past year and reviewed the standard work they are best known for and noted that the need for volunteers continues. No matter what a person’s skill set is, there is a corresponding need at Bikur Cholim.

Numerous attendees expressed similar sentiments that while everyone is concerned with the situation in Israel, local organizations should not be neglected and that everyone should be grateful for all the work Bikur Cholim does. Lee Ann Schein of Edison said she has been coming out in support of Bikur Cholim “for decades,” and expressed her consideration that it may be the most important institution for the community as they provide critical services while bringing all the area synagogues and the entire community together.

The presidium moved on to the introduction of the evening’s honorees, Dr. Aliza Leiser, a specialist in gynecological oncology at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Dr. Arkady Broder, a gastroenterologist at Saint Peter’s Healthcare.

Rabbi Leib Klein from Lakewood.

The audience erupted with a spontaneous standing ovation for Lieser’s husband, a trauma surgeon who was not in attendance as he had left the U.S. and was volunteering his services in Israel. Both Leiser and Broder were honored, along with their respective hospitals, for the work they do in taking care of the physical, emotional and religious needs of their patients.

Rabbi Steven Miodownik of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park observed that while “our hearts and minds are in Israel, we can’t neglect critical local organizations. The medical needs of the community are met on a daily basis by the amazing volunteers and organizers of Bikur Cholim who are of great importance to the community.”

To learn more about Bikur Cholim activities, volunteer or make a donation, visit bikurcholimrv.org. For assistance, call the helpline number at (732) 572-7181.

(l-r) Highland Park residents Milton and Debbie Erdfarb and Barry Mael, and Barry and Rosa Katz of Edison.

Deborah Melman is a staff writer at The Jewish Link.

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