April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

(Courtesy of St. Mary’s General Hospital) It’s coming soon–– that holiday where we all get so drunk we can’t differentiate between “blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman.” What a beautiful scene––young kids wobbling down the street, or maybe driving their friends to houses collecting for their yeshiva, or just dancing and screaming. Everybody is celebrating the victory over Haman and his cohorts who were intent on destroying the Jews. 

Or are they?

“When I first came into this wonderful world of Judaism in 2005, I was totally shocked to see the scene on Purim,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, a ger tzaddik and consultant to St. Mary’s General Hospital. “People who normally never drink, are now totally wiped out––like a drunken frat party––or a Mardi Gras celebration. Is that what it’s all about?

If they are not used to drinking won’t they get violently ill? Yes, they often do get ill, passed out at somebody’s home or even outside on the lawns. Some even have to be taken to the local hospital emergency room.

Is Purim really about drinking? Or is it about being drunk with sincere happiness? What about those kids who are not so popular in school? What do they do? In 2007, some students in Passaic, who did not want to participate in all that drinking, asked their school if they could learn Torah instead. And so it started––being “drunk” with the happiness of learning Torah. Today thousands of students in at least 70 locations are learning Torah the night of Purim. And the number keeps growing.

Purim’s deeper spiritual lessons are profound: We don’t always know what is wrong or right. Blessings often come hidden beneath the mask of misfortune. Even when we can’t see Hashem, we need to trust that He is working through each of us. Like Esther, we need to be willing to take risks and go beyond our comfort zone to do Hashem’s work and make this world a better place.

St. Mary’s General Hospital

These lessons are especially powerful for those of us working at St. Mary’s General Hospital as we journey with patients and families who are struggling to find comfort amid harrowing experiences. They are facing illness, trying to make sense of it all, searching for deeper purpose, praying for miracles and hoping that their illnesses will bring forth a new chapter with improved health and wellbeing.

And as we work hard at understanding the frum community and how we can better serve our patients, we are ready to accommodate those patients who celebrate too much, whether it be this one day or more habitually. For this one day, our emergency room is open to bring you back from that awful and unusual place that you ventured into (and hangovers are not fun). Remember: “Wine goes in and secrets come out.” So, when your friends are not talking with you after Purim, you’ll know why.

Often, having a few drinks leads to more to relieve the stress of the day. Or maybe it leads to trying something else to relieve stress, or just to “feel good.” If these symptoms have entered your life, then the Outpatient Behavioral Health Services may be able to help.

Behavioral Health Services at St. Mary’s General Hospital is licensed by NJ Division of Mental Health, accredited by The Joint Commission and is a member of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA). The primary goal of Behavioral Health is to help clients reach and maintain their highest level of function psychologically, socially, vocationally and economically. As a full-service hospital, it goes beyond behavioral health to physical health.

There is a strong connection between mental illnesses and cardiovascular disease, which underscores the need for integrated care, according to a NJAMHAA. Depression, anxiety and stress have been linked to the onset or exacerbation of heart disease and conversely, cardiovascular illnesses could lead to depression and other mental illnesses, according to the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Heart Association. While nearly 20% of Americans experience depression in their lifetimes, the rate is 50% among people with heart disease. In addition, adults with clinical depression have more than twice the risk of developing coronary artery disease or suffering heart attacks. Furthermore, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that as many as 65% of individuals with coronary heart disease who have had heart attacks have also experienced depression

Additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease among individuals with mental illnesses are unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors. For example, individuals with mental illnesses are twice as likely to use tobacco, compared to the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals with mental illnesses are generally more likely to consume alcohol and less likely to follow healthy diets or exercise.

With all of this, St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic is here to help. Whether it be a short-term fix to overcome all that Purim partying or something more serious like addiction, heart attacks or strokes, the hospital is a State Certified Stroke Center and Heart Center and Accredited by the American College of Cardiologists and is qualified to help those in need.


For more information about St. Mary’s General Hospital, please email George Matyjewicz at [email protected]

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