Bikur Cholim’s annual breakfast for women titled “Hope is Healing,” will celebrate and honor Bikur Cholim volunteers and supporters – good neighbors. It’s this type of care and kindness that builds a community of healing.
Last week, a group of Maple Street neighbors gathered with two Bikur Cholim of Crown Heights representatives to create a neighborhood welcoming committee for the guests of Hadassah’s Place, the new Bikur Cholim hospitality suite on their block.
The women discussed the privilege and responsibility that comes with being neighbors of Hadassah’s Place, a hospitality suite available to patients who travel to New York City for treatment. They carefully weighed a visiting patient’s need for privacy while also the potential need for help during their stay.
“I was moved by the neighbors’ sensitivity to our organization’s commitment to protecting a patient’s confidentiality,” one Bikur Cholim board member said. The meeting concluded with the decision that help would only be offered upon the request or permission of the Hadassah’s Place guests.
“The first instinct is to rush in and help,” added an attendee, a neighbor who lives 3 doors down from Hadassah’s Place, “I’m delighted that we came up with a way to be of service without chas v’shalom intruding on the guest.”
The neighbors drafted a warm welcome letter in which they offer babysitting, shabbos hospitality, playdates, accepting a delivery, help with unpacking or packing, and more- in addition to what Bikur Cholim already provides, such as meals and rides.
The operation of Hadassah’s Place relies entirely on donor funding and community care. Just this week a generous community member sent a contractor and gardener to prepare the yard for summer use, while indoors, Hachai & Friends are donating a complete children’s library. These gifts are incredibly useful and much appreciated by Hadassah’s Place guests. But just as important are the non-tangible gifts of a neighbor’s care.
A caring and neighborly spirit is fundamental to the practice of Bikur Cholim. In recognizing the impact neighbors have on one another, Bikur Cholim of CH plans to host more block, building, and neighborhood gatherings, just like last week’s meeting on Maple Street. These meetings would be a chance to create community among neighbors so that offers of help at times of need are not between strangers, but among a network of friends.
When a neighbor stops by to drop off a nutritious meal for a patient, or delivers flowers to the family on her street going through a hard time; when a family hosts the children so Mom can take a nap in between caretaking for her sick child, or offers to pick up groceries for the family on their block who just suffered a loss; when a neighbor shares a housekeeper with someone needing help, or regularly looks in on the elderly person living alone nearby; these acts of kindness add up to a healthy and beautiful neighborhood.
“A family dealing with medical challenges is often in a lonely, painful headspace, only communicating with close relatives or doctors,” explained Esther Blau, longtime board member of Bikur Cholim of CH. “When neighbors are there for each other, those dealing with illness feel less alone, and the vast community of Crown Heights seems a bit smaller and more connected.”
This theme will be on display at next week’s Annual Bikur Cholim Breakfast for Women. Titled “Hope is Healing”, the event will celebrate and honor Bikur Cholim volunteers and supporters, who are essentially good neighbors. It’s this type of care and kindness that builds a community of healing.
Support Bikur Cholim’s neighborly work by attending the event on Sunday May 22, and/or buying tickets for the auction at bikurcholimCH.org/auction.