Friday, June 05, 2020

In 13 hospitals around Israel, over 2,000 young adult volunteers in neon yellow T-shirts bearing the logo “Osim Sameach,” making happiness, are a constant presence. They may be seen pushing an adult food cart bearing fresh carrot and orange juice, and varieties of coffee and tea, cake and cookies. Others may be rolling a children’s cart bearing waffles, cotton candy, popcorn, a crepe maker and lots of candy. They may be seen at the bedsides of young patients recovering from long illnesses, bringing them cheer through song, games, workshops, books and toys. They are often found on a Shabbat or Yom Tov providing food and treats, and helping isolated patients, whose relatives are not with them, celebrate the otherwise lonely day. Outside of the hospitals, they may be found at the homes of newly released patients celebrating their homecomings and even birthdays. Children with special needs are treated to music and dance performances, games and contests in the hospitals and in their homes. Osim Sameach has even arranged Shabbatonim for these children, providing needed respite for their families.

Osim Sameach was organized in Shaare Zedek a year and a half ago, by David Tzarfeti from Har Nof, then a 23-year old Magen Dovid Adom Paramedic. A learned ben Torah and current yeshiva student, Tzarfeti saw the need for such an organization from personal experience. A few years back, he miraculously survived a tragic car accident in the Golan Heights in which he lost several friends. He was taken to a hospital in Tzfat where he underwent an eight-hour surgery. His recovery was slow and painful. Despite the daily presence of his mother, and frequent visits from relatives and friends, Tzarfeti found the hospital stay to be arduous and lonely. The meals were lacking in taste as well. After his release, Tzarfeti was determined to ease the hospital stays of others and organized a group of friends who regularly visited Shaare Zedek Hospital, where they played music and sang for the patients. During one such visit, an appreciative patient asked if the young men were part of a formal organization, as he complimented them on “osim sameach,” making happiness. From there the organization Osim Sameach was created.

Through Tzarfeti’s personal contacts and social media, Osim Sameach attracted volunteers from across Israel. They come in separate groups of girls and boys to entertain patients with musical presentations and many different games and workshops. As “happy” foods definitely bring simcha, they distribute Shabbat meals, greet people at emergency rooms with food, and are present with their food carts before and after procedures. They are with patients throughout long stays, through cancer treatments and on holidays and Rosh Chodesh celebrations. Currently, during the COVID-19 shutdowns at hospitals, Osim Sameach volunteers deliver closed food packages to hospitals and leave food parcels at the doors of the elderly and ill. They hope to resume all of their services after the “all-clear” signal is sounded.

Julie Landau of Monsey and her Partner-in-Torah Avigail Ilizirov from Brooklyn were inspired by David Tzarfeti’s story and organization. They took upon themselves the task of spreading the word through social media outlets including Instagram, Facebook and various WhatsApp chats and statuses. Currently, there is an active website with write-ups and pictures detailing the work of Osim Sameach. Israeli viewers can sign up as volunteers and offer their special skills to the organization, whether online or in person. The website also offers opportunities to those residing outside of Israel to participate in raffles for the best jokes and for creative designs for postcards, bracha cards, Havdala giveaways and other promotional items.

Landau would like to expand the group’s supporters. “We hope that you will consider partnering with their holy work in any way that you can, through moral support or with a monetary donation, no matter how big or small,” she said. “Feel free to contact Osim Sameach as well for volunteer opportunities.They have a range of positions for people of all ages and skill sets in Israel and outside. May you each continue to be ‘osim sameach’ in your own ways.”

For further information visit www.osimsameach.org.il, tinyurl.com/osimsa­meach, or email [email protected] For more information in the US, contact Julie Landau at 845-659-9388 or email [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz