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Family Members Flock To NY/NJ Chesed Hospitality Rooms As Multiple Hospitals Reopen


It’s been months since anyone entered a Chesed 24/7 Hospitality Room. But on Wednesday, May 26, the long-deserted rooms in Mount Sinai and Lenox Hill hospitals came alive, as family members of patients swarmed in seeking food and comfort. Just hours had passed since Governor Cuomo announced that the hospitals would be part of his pilot visitation program. Yet already, the giant percolators were filled and the rooms were stocked and ready. On Thursday, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Hackensack University, and Northern Westchester hospitals joined the list.


“When we heard we could come into the hospitals, we sprang into action,” said Rabbi Shalom Greenberg, founder of Chesed 24/7. “We filled our vans with meals, baked goods, and staples, and got them to Manhattan in less than an hour.” The packages were still being unpacked when people began to stream into the room. Many came seeking hot food for their loved ones – patients who had subsisted on hospital trays, and often missed meals because they were too weak to feed themselves. Their stories were wrenching. Yet there was a thread of kindness running through the misery. Klal Yisroel had sprung into action – and Chesed 24/7 was in the thick of things.

The governor’s policy had made it impossible for the Chesed Hospitality Rooms to be open. But incredibly, Chesed 24/7 continued to provide food and comfort to patients – even on Pesach. Their chesed began at the very start of patients’ journeys to the hospital, in Hatzalah ambulances. Although patients were not allowed to bring food into the hospital, Chesed 24/7 came up with an idea.


“We stocked ambulances with bags of Pesach food, and somehow, the hospitals allowed them in. No one got to the hospital empty handed,” Rabbi Greenberg said. For many patients, the bags were the only matzah and Pesach food they had. When a patient said that she spent Shabbos reading and rereading the label on the grape juice bottle in her package, they added reading material – a most welcome addition.

The food bag program initially served a number of neighborhoods, but when a Hatzalah member from Kensington came to Mount Sinai, and saw his New Square counterpart handing over a bag, he was floored. The New Square Hatzalah member emptied his entire stock into the Kensington ambulance – and from that moment, the program expanded, so that it served virtually every community, including Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Queens, Passaic, and beyond.

But one bag of food can only stretch so far, and Chesed 24/7 had to make sure the patients were fed throughout their stay. Calling on connections cultivated over many years, they made special arrangements with hospitals that typically did not allow patients to receive outside food – and somehow managed to deliver food to hospital security desks, for delivery to patient bedsides. The packages were life-saving!

Remarkable – and challenging – as it was to feed patients, Chesed 24/7 did that and more. Their Shabbos apartment near Colombia University was cleaned for Pesach, and fully stocked before Yom Tov, and before every Shabbos. The rooms are used every week by those accompanying pediatric and maternity patients, and others.


Chesed 24/7’s team of hospital liaisons worked around the clock to ease the burden faced by families desperate to connect with their loved ones. They pulled strings, connected with doctors and did everything possible to get information when none was forthcoming, and to arrange Facetime and other services for patients. Mrs. Sima Bachrach, patient liaison at Mount Sinai, worked even through the shiva for her mother, to help the sick.

“Every single Chesed 24/7 program continued to operate all this time,” says Rabbi Greenberg. Demand for medical equipment was high, and the organization fielded hundreds of requests for their energizing pomegranate juice, which was dispatched to the homes of coronavirus patients suffering from debilitating weakness.

Although some hospitals are open, Chesed 24/7 is looking forward to seeing all twenty-one of its Chesed Hospitality Rooms up and running. In the meantime, they continue to serve cholei Yisroel in every possible way.

To request meals or other assistance for a patient, please call 845-354-3233. To support Chesed 24/7 in its efforts to help the sick, call us, or visit chesed247.org.


(YWN World headquarters – NYC)

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