July 16, 2024
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Remarks by Gomlei Chesed Honoree Adrienne Irani At Bikur Cholim of Raritan Valley Annual Event

(Editor’s Note: Below is the speech delivered by Mrs. Adrienne Irani, who along with her husband, Dr. Aviv Irani, were the Gomlei Chesed Honorees at this past Sunday’s Bikur Cholim of Raritan Valley Annual Event. The event was attended by JLNJ Co-Publisher Moshe Kinderlehrer who was quite taken with this speech, the event and the unity shown by the community in honor of the Bikur Cholim. He was also there attending in honor of his friends, Dr. Josh and Yael Segal, the Guests of Honor.)

First of all, my husband and I are grateful to be honored alongside Dr. Segal, for we personally also owe a debt of gratitude to him.

I just recently learned from one of my daughter’s first teachers, Morah Raizy Krauss, that the root of to give, nun, saf, nun, can be read the same in each direction, intimating that when one gives, one simultaneously receives. Being involved in this organization, even just coming to this breakfast, can have enormous implications on a person’s life, and I would like to share a personal example. Just last year, at this time, you may recall that Dr. Nisenblatt was the honoree. I don’t remember why, but during the talk he mentioned a woman with a cancerous growth on the bridge of her nose, which turned out to be fatal. I was thunderstruck, and immediately looked up at the heavens and said, quietly, “Okay, okay, I got the message!” You see, “coincidentally’ I was sitting with a growth on the bridge of my nose, and had “very good” reasons, or should I say, rationalizations, why I didn’t need to have it checked. But when the Almighty goes to the trouble of coming to you and getting you a free consult from a respected oncologist, you can’t ignore it. Bottom line, I went to a doctor right away, the growth was biopsied and as it turned out, found to be precancerous. So you see, just by coming to the breakfast, I dodged a bullet.

But that is not the end of the story. Shortly thereafter, I was doing a bikur cholim visit in a rehabilitation center, and a friend of mine mentioned that her uncle was at the same facility. During my visit, I shared this hashkacha protis story with the uncle, as well as his daughter and her husband. A short time later, I received a phone call from the daughter. She told me that after I had left them, another woman came to visit. She shared how she was having some heart trouble, and after she had left, her husband confided to her, “You know that story that Adrienne just told? Well, it is interesting because I have been having some concerns about my heart that I also have been ignoring.” The next day, they ran to a cardiologist who put a heart monitor on him. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a catastrophic event and was rushed by hatzalah to the hospital. She went on to tell me that the doctor afterwards informed her that because of the monitor, they diagnosed the problem quickly which helped to save his life. So she thanked me, saying your visit saved my husband’s life. So bikur cholim visits can save a life.

Sometimes the benefits of bikur cholim are less dramatic, but valuable due to the knowledge acquired or lessons learned. My grandson, Yisrael Meir, and I while visiting the Regency Jewish Heritage Rehabilitation Center had the good fortune of meeting the incredible Mrs. Pianko (A”H), who regaled us with stories of frum life from her family in Europe and her own experiences growing up in the United States. The lesson of making the most out of life and having a positive attitude, we learned from a resident sitting in a wheelchair at the entrance to the facility, with a “volunteer” name tag, stating her role as “greeter.” Her infectious smile and hearty “Welcome!” each time that we entered never failed to warm our hearts.

The last time I spoke to a room this size, I am reminded, was 50 years ago. It was at the Americana Hotel for the National Jewelry division of B’nai B’rith. Besides feeling terrified, the only other thing I remember was when I looked out from the podium, was that the whole room sparkled back at me. When I look out from here, I also see jewel after jewel after jewel. Let me just focus for a moment on the jewels that make up this organization. I have been coming to these breakfasts, like many of you for a number of years, and I have always been in awe of the people in it. Since I have become more involved myself, I am almost speechless. Although Aviv and I are the honorees, trust me when we say we are nothing compared to others sitting in this room. For example, when you and I are sleeping cozily in our beds at 4 AM, others may be waiting in their vans at the airport to pick up a stressed family coming from Israel with an extremely ill child, needing to deal with a myriad of complications. I could give you many other examples, but I think you get the idea.

Aviv and I would like to thank you all for coming and showing your support for this incredible organization – you, the members of this community we are so grateful to be a part of. Also, we are humbled by the attendance of our dear family, surrogate family, and our friends, from past and present, who have traveled from near and far to be here with us, despite all the other demands on their time. We hope you know well how much we appreciate what you have added to the quality of our lives. And if I can end by taking this opportunity to thank my husband who easily could have said on many occasions, (Who remembers Laurel and Hardy?) “This is another fine mess you got us into!” Instead, I come up with the ideas, and he quietly takes care of the execution once I have gotten in over my head. He is an extraordinary person, and I am grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge it publically. And together, we would like to thank you for this special honor.

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