By Rabbi Alex Freedman
Do you know someone who could really use some company or a visit from the clergy or friendly congregants? Please let me know.
We at Beth El need your help with the crucial Mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick).
When someone is in the hospital, the family often tells the clergy, and we do our very best to call and visit. Now we have a fantastic “Thinking of you” card that we bring or send to have a familiar picture of Beth El in the room. This is one of many terrific ideas by the Bikkur Cholim Caring Community, a committee led by Jan Channon, Barbara Hochwert, Jackie Melinger, Basia Retsky, and Pam Schlosberg. As its name implies, we have a whole group of friendly Beth El members trained in the Mitzvah and ready to assist. While we can always improve, I think Beth El succeeds when it comes to meeting the needs of congregants who are in hospitals.
Yet there are many people who could use a visit and conversation who are out of the hospital. Maybe they’re in a rehab facility like Whitehall. Or maybe they’re at Gidwitz or at home but unable to go out during the day. They should enjoy company as well – if they would like – from the clergy and maybe members of the Bikkur Cholim Caring Community.
But I don’t know who is homebound because they often don’t tell me. So if you know somebody like this who could use some company or a visit, please tell me (with their permission).
Please let me know if you have a family member who might benefit from this Mitzvah. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be confidential.
Beth El does its best to be a caring community. We feel we’re ready to take the next step, which will really benefit all of us.
Bikkur Cholim is a Mitzvah because when we keep company with someone who is challenged in these ways, we are emulating G-d Who visited the sick, in the case of Abraham (Talmud: Sotah 14a). Through this Mitzvah we make G-d more present in the world.