Shluchim on Call “Share a Smile” With Hospital Patients

A new initiative from Chabad on Call is bringing the joy of Adar to one of the most challenging environments – the halls of hospitals and medical centers. 

Rabbi Lazer Hershkovich’s makom hashlichus isn’t typical. It’s not limited to a zip code, a college campus, or even a city. Instead, the core community that he and his wife serve are the Jewish patients, families, and medical staff at more than twenty healthcare facilities in the Des Plaines, IL area. 

This week, Rabbi Hershkovich will be bringing the joy of Adar directly into those hospital halls thanks to Chabad on Call at Merkos 302’s newest “CARE” initiative for Jewish holidays.

“The CARE programs are an incredible resource for shluchim who do any kind of bikur cholim,” says Rabbi Hershkovich. “They give us an incredible and easy way to expand our offerings.”

This Adar, the CARE program, is called “Share a Smile” and presents shluchim with a “Joy Table” that can be set up at any medical facility to give out “Joy Bags.” Each custom Joy Bag is filled with fun and heartening content specifically created for those in hospital and healthcare settings. From an emoji stress ball and pop-up pushka to the bespoke activity booklets and reading material, every piece of the program is carefully crafted to be sensitive and supportive of the challenging circumstances recipients are dealing with. 

“The ability of joy and positivity to impact those who are struggling with medical challenges is something the Rebbe reiterated numerous times,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, “we hope this program brings joy to those who need it most as well as help Shluchim easily empower community members to join in the meaningful work.”

The uplifting program is simple to carry out and can require as little as 15 minutes to organize. “The CARE programs are completely turnkey and come with all the details and materials we need. With just ten or fifteen minutes of my time, I can offer my community the type of platform that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own. I simply send out the email, set up the table, and now there’s a beautiful Jewish presence in the hospital,” says Rabbi Hershkovich. “With each program, I can make them as big or as small as I want. The flexibility in implementing the programs is a huge plus.”

Rabbi Hershkovich plans to set up a Joy Table outside the hospital’s chapel area, and he’s not the only one publicizing the program. 

“We plan on having the table by the Spiritual Care Department and chapel, with a sign explaining what the significance of the bag is and offering people to take one either for themselves or a friend. In addition to our publicity channels, the hospital is going to publicize it on their channels as well. Everyone who passes by the table will be inspired and uplifted. And of course, the people who take the bag will enjoy top quality merch and prayers that are sure to inspire and uplift them even more.” 

Chabad on Call’s CARE program is available for shluchim serving hospitals, hospices, rehab centers, long-term care facilities, independent and assisted living centers, nursing homes, or even the homebound. Register for Share a Smile and check out all of Chabad on Call’s offerings at

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