April 10, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

West Orange Bikur Cholim Looks to Expand

West Orange—To escape the perils of Jewish life in Iran, Dr. Joe Rozehzadeh fled to the US at 12 years old. From a young age, Rozehzadeh already understood the importance of visiting the sick. Events in his life helped him take that understanding to a higher level.

Rozehzadeh ultimately settled in West Orange with his wife, Lori, to raise their family and practice dentistry. He was grateful to have been able to bring his parents to this country in their later years. Sadly, his father, Dovid, passed away in 2002, leaving behind his special legacy of kindness and caring. Thus was “Zichron Dovid Bikur Cholim” born.

Since then, the Rozehzadehs have expanded the goals of Bikur Cholim to incorporate the minutia, as well as the more obvious and over-arching necessities, and virtually everything in between. Beyond personally visiting the sick, Zichron Dovid now provides resources, aid, housing and comfort to cholim and their families in the West Orange area. Additionally important is the nachat ruach afforded to a choleh knowing that their family can be nearby, as Bikur Cholim attends to the needs of the family as well. This focus and sensitivity comprise the “heartbeat” of Zichron Dovid.

From its beautiful beginnings unfolds a trail of intentional kindnesses and an overflow of “sweat equity.” Through rain, snow, wind, blazing heat and arctic cold braved by a circle of friends from Rozehzadeh’s youth, as well as his own children and their friends, the needs of cholim in the West Orange area have been met, and exceeded. As time has passed, others have joined this amazing team. There is devoted community member Mitchell Liebman, who continues to walk many miles on Shabbat or Yom Tov in order to assure a minyan for remote locations wherever and whenever needed. Joe’s “right-hand man,” Alan Rubin, has been invaluable, as well as Murray Laulicht, who donated the first Shabbat room at St. Barnabas Hospital, providing a place for visiting family to sleep when a loved one was hospitalized.

Starting years ago as an “action-based” mitzvah, Zichron Dovid now includes numerous benefits and services. The Shabbat room at St. Barnabas has expanded to two rooms that lock for security and privacy, with a bed in each to accommodate the needs of two families. There is a refrigerator lovingly stocked before Shabbat by West Orange resident Sally Malech or Lori Rozehzadeh, with cholov Yisrael dairy products, deli, drinks and other snacks—all at no cost to the occupants.

Zichron Dovid also opened a guest home near St. Barnabas, designed to comfortably accommodate up to three families overnight on Shabbat or Yom Tov. This home is also available to couples undergoing infertility treatment, who must be near the hospital on a Shabbat or Yom Tov, for purposes of uninterrupted treatment. Ongoing efforts include the transport of a sefer Torah every erev Shabbat and Yom Tov to the Kessler facility, for its now-permanent minyan. The “Kessler Shul” is attended by rehabilitation in-patients and supported by devoted community members, including some of the Rozehzadeh’s older sons who regularly make the long walk in order to assure that there is a minyan. Zichron Dovid also provides and delivers a kiddush and shalosh seudot weekly. The Kessler Shul thrives through the dedication of Avi Laub and Steve Malech, who fill in for Rozehzadeh when he is away.

Recently, Rozehzadeh was approached by Newark Beth Israel and University Hospital to create Shabbat visitor accommodations there. Until now, Zichron Dovid has been funded primarily by the Rozehzadeh family, and supported in part by grateful families who have benefitted from its services. With the advent of Elul, an auspicious time for tzedakah, Zichron Dovid appeals to the local communities to participate in the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim and help fund the necessary growth of Zichron Dovid, a registered non-profit in New Jersey. To donate, you can reach Rozehzadeh at 973-941-5304.

By Ellie Wolf

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