What started as a simple request for ice cream has spiraled into continuing a family legacy and ultimately creating a community Circle of Chesed. In 2013, Jack Gindi A”H spent a significant amount of time in New York Cornell Hospital undergoing treatments. He did not have much of an appetite; therefore when he requested ice cream late one evening, his family went on a desperate search for some. It was 2 am, the cafeteria was closed and the vending machines were sold out. His family found the Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room and found more than just the ice cream Jack wanted— they found a home. His wife Debbi testifies, “that room was an oasis in the desert. It was a place where I knew what it meant to be a Jew anywhere in the world. It was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provided the comfort of home.” Chesed 24/7 has 18 similar Chesed Rooms, located in hospitals throughout the NY-Tri-State area. Each room contains a refrigerator fully stocked with fresh food, two microwaves, chairs and a table to eat on, a Shabbat warmer to use on Shabbat, a hot water urn, cabinets filled with paper goods, cell phone chargers, prayer books and anything else that can make a hospital stay bearable for a Jewish family. Upon Jack’s passing, Debbi and her children wanted to do something to commemorate Jack’s memory and generously sponsored the Jack M. Gindi Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room in Cornell Hospital. As her family benefitted tremendously from the Chesed 24/7 Room, Debbi was grateful for the opportunity to be back on the giving side of chesed. The Jack M. Gindi Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room, along with all of Chesed 24/7’s services, provides an incredible source of comfort—even when you might not think you need it. Norma Cohen experienced this first hand when her father was hospitalized in Mount Sinai Hospital. She had just come back from China and was rushing to the hospital to be with her father and her family. As it was before Shabbat, she remembered to bring along candles to light, not realizing that you cannot light actual candles in a hospital. A Chesed 24/7 volunteer came out of nowhere and gave her a Shabbat in a Box, complete with electric candles to light for Shabbat, as well as other items she and her family could use for Shabbat. Norma stressed, “I was unbelievably impressed that minutes before Shabbat this woman was there to make sure anybody on an emergency was well taken care of.” This was in addition to the Shabbat food placed in the Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room. After visiting a Chesed 24/7 Room and witnessing firsthand the impact this organization has on all walks of Jewish life, Ken Cayre and Abraham Fruchthandler, noted activist and philanthropist in the Ashkenazic community, decided to unite their communities together to support Chesed 24/7. Ken and Lillian Cayre opened their home, hosting the inaugural Flatbush Breakfast. Chaired by Stanley Chera with Harry Adjmi as the masterful emcee, the breakfast also honored Dr. Albert Ftiha and Dr. Elie Fteha with the Chesed Leadership Award for their commitment to healing with chesed. Rabbi Eli Mansour addressed the breakfast attendees, praising the work of Chesed 24/7. “When one visits a sick person in the hospital, usually the one in the bed gets the attention,” he noted. “But the family members are also sick. The husband, the children, the parents, the Y siblings, they are not sick enough that they require medicine, but they are drained physically and they are drained emotionally. Chesed 24/7 takes care of them too, Chesed 24/7 takes care of everybody and this is the perfect and purest way to fulfill the mitzvah of bikur cholim.” The crowd was overwhelmed and impressed by the efforts of Chesed 24/7 and the wide reaching impact it has had on the community. They joined together to form a Chesed Circle of Friends, with each member of the circle donating $18,000 to help sponsor the newly renovated Chesed 24/7 Room at Columbia Children’s Hospital. Their generous support of Chesed 24/7 exemplified a unified giving effort and continues to allow Chesed 24/7 to provide a beautiful and welcoming home in the hospital to those who need it. The renovations for the Columbia Children’s Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room have recently been completed and a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held in the near future to honor the Chesed Circle of Friends and thank them for their generosity. It’s impossible to describe the overflowing emotions of gratitude and relief felt by families who use the Chesed Room in the Children’s Hospital on a daily basis. While Debbi Gindi’s family was the spark to introduce the Syrian community to Chesed 24/7, her parents Maurice A”H and Pauline Cohen were the embers who fanned the flames of chesed throughout their lifetime, teaching their children through example. Wanting to commemorate the life of their father and emulate the ways of their mother, the Cohen daughters and their families, Esther and Neil Saada, Sarah and Albert Maleh, Debbi Gindi-Jack M. Gindi Foundation, and Rachelle and Murad J. Harari generously sponsored the Pauline and Maurice R. Cohen Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room in Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. Maurice A”H paved the way for his children to follow his legacy of chesed, as he was always helping people in need and giving generously to charity. He taught his family that it wasn’t about what you have, but what you give—and how you give it. His wife Pauline was his partner in chesed and was incredibly moved that her family chose to sponsor the Chesed 24/7 Room, specifically in Memorial Sloan Kettering. Pauline noted, “each patient begins a long and strenuous journey for survival down the corridors of that hospital. Some treatments take hours, while others will take days. The Chesed Room will alleviate and assist family members and caregivers in need of comfort. Giving sustenance and support is truly a Jewish value which bonds us all.” Watching a loved one battle cancer is both painful and difficult. If a simple cup of coffee can provide the smallest bit of comfort during these times, the effort is well worth it. There are no words sufficient to describe the relief that the Pauline and Maurice R. Cohen Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room brings to countless members of the community who use the room on a daily basis. Chesed 24/7 has Hospitality Rooms in the following hospitals: Columbia University Medical Center – Milstein Hospital Pavilion, Columbia University Medical Center–Babies and Children’s Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Hackensack University Medical Center (Women’s Building), Hackensack University Medical Center (Main Building), Good Samaritan Hospital (Suffern), Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Hospital for Special Surgery, Ellenville Hospital, Catskill Regional Medical Center (Harris Hospital), Montefiore–Albert Einstein–Weiller Division, Valley Hospital–Mother Baby Unit, Valley Hospital–Chill Bldg, Trinitas Hospital (Elizabeth), Calvary Hospital and Carter Hospital (NYC). Many of the Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Rooms also have full time liaisons to support families with their individual needs. The liaisons connect families to Chesed 24/7’s other services and serve as a point person within the hospital with regard to kosher food, room issues, medical treatment options, and hospital transfers. Not only does the liaison try to ensure the patient has access to the best medical treatment, more importantly, they are a solid shoulder to lean on—a stable force for the families during an otherwise unstable time. Knowing they have someone to talk to who is there to help in anyway is such a comfort, allowing families to get through their crises. Whether it’s a simple cup of coffee, a complete meal, Shabbat candles or just a place to go where you will be understood and embraced, Chesed 24/7 is there like family. Chesed is like a circle, a circle of givers and a circle of receivers— continuing the legacy of families and creating a new legacy of chesed for the future.
What started as a simple request for ice cream has spiraled into continuing a family legacy and ultimately creating a community Circle of Chesed. In 2013, Jack Gindi A”H spent a significant amount of time in New York Cornell Hospital undergoing treatments. He did not have much of an appetite; therefore when he requested ice […]Read More
On November 29th, Chesed 24/7 and Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital formally opened the Pauline and Maurice R. Cohen Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room, located next to the pastoral care department. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held, attended by Rabbi Shulim and Mrs. Chavy Greenberg, representing Chesed 24/7 of New Square, Cynthia McCollum, Senior Vice President of […]Read More