Monday, July 06, 2020

Every few days TeaneckShuls lists an ISO (in search of) for medical equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers and highly in-demand knee scooters. Fortunately these items and a diversified array of other medical equipment are readily available free of charge in our local communities. Most importantly, they can be delivered to your door within a short period of time. This exceptional chesed is made available through the kindness and generosity of spirit of a group of individuals who rallied around Yehiel Levy six years ago when he established the Rinat Chaim Medical Equipment Gemach in memory of his beloved wife Renee Chaya, z”l, who passed away on Chai Sivan 5773.

During her stoic and relentless battle with cancer for six years, the Levys had utilized a variety of medical equipment to facilitate Renee’s comfort and mobility. With her passing, her husband, Yehiel, and son, Haim, decided at first to donate this equipment and then came up with the idea of creating a gemach for families like theirs who could benefit greatly from their usage. In consultation with Levy’s rav, Rabbi Lawrence Rothwachs of Congregation Beth Aaron, who together with wife, Chaviva, had been most responsive to the needs of the Levys during Renee’s illness, the gemach was created and named the Rinat Chaim Gemach in memory of Renee Chaya. Immediately, members of Beth Aaron came aboard to assist in the project. The shul’s attorney, Lewis Karp, incorporated the gemach into a 501(c)3 non-profit. MoB Singer created the website and went on to create a spreadsheet listing the equipment available and their serial numbers so that they could be tracked when lent out. Larry Kahn took upon himself all the technical details including the upkeep of the equipment. Donations came in from Beth Aaron members as well as families across the local communities.

Initially, Levy was using a room in his Teaneck Road apartment as storage space for the equipment. Shortly, the area became too small. At that point Beth Aaron member Izzy Salomon offered space in his Hackensack warehouse. Rabbi Dr. Yosef Glassman and wife, Osnat, of Bergenfield offered their garage when even the Salomon warehouse became crowded. Throughout the past six years, Micah Kaufman, a young man of multiple talents and innumerable involvements, served as a right-hand man to Levy in running the gemach including being involved in deliveries and pick-ups. Unfortunately, at the moment, Kaufman is recovering from a devastating car accident and is in the constant prayers of the community for a speedy refuah sheleima.

When Levy met Sarah Goldman, who became his wife in 2019, the couple considered the future of the gemach and were determined that it continue even after their relocation to Hillcrest, Queens. Enter yet another Beth Aaron member, who had worked alongside Levy in the establishment of the Beth Aaron Youth Choir. Ronnie Schwartz and his wife, Bonnie, had been good friends of the Levys and knew Renee well. They stepped up to the plate and offered to run the gemach from their home in Teaneck.

For Levy, “This was no less than a gift from shamayim. I can sleep well at night knowing that our helpful gemach is in the hands of such dedicated and capable people as Ronnie and Bonnie Schwartz.”

The Rinat Chaim Gemach distributes top-of-the-line medical equipment that has been fully sanitized between usages. They offer a range of wheelchairs, some power-wheeled, to suit many body sizes. They give out walkers, rollators, shower chairs and commodes, pronged canes, crutches and knee scooters. Their equipment is serviced between uses so that it functions safely. Upon request, the equipment is delivered to the patient’s door and can be kept as long as needed.

Levy shared that he often received frantic calls for wheelchairs on Erev Shabbat or Yom Tov when families realized that their elderly family members who were visiting would have a difficult time getting to shul. Levy remembers occasions when he would be dressed for Shabbat when called to make a quick pre-Shabbat or pre-Yom Tov delivery. Levy expressed his gratitude to Rebbetzin Bassie Taubes who coordinates the West Englewood gemach, with whom he often collaborated when equipment or time was short.

Ronnie Schwartz welcomes those in need of medical equipment to contact him at 917-532-6922. If you are interested in donating funds for the upkeep of the equipment or if you have top-condition equipment to donate, call this number as well or visit www.rinatchaimgemach.com.

By Pearl Markovitz