As a recent patient recovering from hip surgery at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, I had the great fortune to experience the exemplary performance of the mitzva of bikur holim (visiting the sick) by the men and boys of Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob and David on Pleasant Valley Way.
Accordingly, the purposes of this letter are to commend that congregation’s members for “adopting” the Kessler Institute in West Orange and its constant stream of Jewish patients and to let all in the Jewish community at large know that the inevitable discomfort and isolation of being a rehabilitation patient are eased by the kindness, generosity, and hospitality of the good people of Ahawas Achim.
On my first day in rehabilitation, I was visited by a member of that congregation, who stopped by my bed to see if I needed anything, to alert me that Shabbat services would be held that week in a conference room at the Institute, and to leave me his phone number. And every morning during the week that I was there recovering, another member of the congregation came by to make the rounds of Jewish patients, offering comfort, fellowship, and the opportunity to put on tefillin.
The Shabbat that I spent at Kessler was, wholly unexpectedly, one of the most meaningful of my life: About a dozen men and boys of Ahawas Achim held Shabbat services for Jewish patients in the morning, and then returned for afternoon/evening services later in the day. I and other Jewish patients — including those recovering from brain and spinal injuries, amputations, and other surgeries and injuries — were made to feel like we were part of a caring and thoughtful Jewish community that is concerned for the welfare of every member, from the least to the most observant.
I hope that all who read this will keep it in mind if they or friends and loved ones should ever find themselves as patients at Kessler’s West Orange facility.
Adam S. Weiss