Crown Heights Teen Highlights the Helpers

In a class writing assignment, a Crown Heights middle-schooler focused on the helpers during a time of struggle for her family.

It’s a class writing assignment, but for Chana, it’s personal. “It is very hard when you go through something and you don’t even feel like a normal family,” she writes, “Because everyone is separated.”

In her assignment titled “Simcha Shel Mitzvah,” Chana describes what has been a difficult year for her family. With her newborn brother hospitalized out-of-town awaiting treatments, the 12-year-old and her father would commute between Crown Heights and Massachusetts for school and work while her mother stayed at the baby’s bedside. 

COVID restrictions complicated matters, especially when her father caught the virus! But even while recalling the hardships, Chana wanted to highlight the helpers. “One of the organizations that really helped us through it was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Bikur Cholim of Crown Heights. When me and my Dad were in Crown Heights, we always had home cooked dinners that Bikur Cholim organized for us. They also had connections to other doctors and other families with similar conditions that my brother has, so my Mom could talk to them.”

Chana’s family is only one among the hundreds of families that the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Bikur Cholim of Crown Heights has helped this year. It’s a home cooked meal delivered to a hospital room or a ride to the seventh round of chemo. It’s a chol hamoed trip for the kids or a check for a much needed cleaning lady. It’s a dream bas mitzvah or a surprise visit from Benny Friedman. It’s a supportive message or respite for an exhausted caregiver, a Chanukah present that brightens up a child’s day, tailored support for a new mother and baby, or a smiling face waiting for a lonely patient on their discharge. It’s funds to help pay the bills as the breadwinner recovers, assistance to pay for psychiatric treatment, or doing grocery shopping for the homebound or elderly. It’s connections and information, copays and provider fees, support and care, a giving heart and a comforting shoulder at a time of bewilderment, struggle and fear for patients and their loved ones. It’s the services, support and strength that enable families to heal. 

With the help of over 250 volunteers and many sponsors Bikur Cholim of CH works hard to to offer emotional and material support patients and their families going through long-term illness or temporary medical crises every day. And the most remarkable thing is, you may not even know it, for at Bikur Cholim discretion is as paramount as compassion.  All this flurry of activity and chessed goes on without any fanfare or recognition in the most confidential and sensitive way.  

But Chana knows it, and in this assignment about doing mitzvahs with joy, she is eager to share how much Bikur Cholim of CH means to her. “Bikur Cholim really helped me understand the great importance of helping people,” she writes. Chana says she tries to emulate Bikur Cholim of CH by noticing when someone is sick or even “stressed out and just needs help,” and by making an effort to give them a smile and be there for them. “It really gives me a joy in my heart that I can’t explain to help them,” she ends. 

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