Jewish patients and families at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth now have a new room in which to find privacy, seek rest, or enjoy a kosher meal.
A joint project of Trinitas and the Jewish Educational Center, in partnership with the nonprofit Chesed 24/7, the sixth-floor room includes a couch, a table and chairs, and a kosher kitchenette.
Observant families who might need to stay overnight can use its microwave ovens, a warming oven suitable for Shabbat use, a refrigerator, and cabinets stocked with packaged foods like cereal, chicken soup, and beef cholent.
“I hope it won’t be used except for maternity cases,” said Rabbi Elazar Teitz, dean of the JEC in Elizabeth, as he affixed a mezuza to the door frame and recited the blessings at an unveiling for the room on June 29.
The room was funded by Danny and Claire Kahane of Englewood and their family, in memory of their respective parents, and with donations from the Elizabeth/Hillside/Union Jewish community.
It is the 17th such respite room and the first in Union County for Chesed 24/7, founded by Rabbi Shulim Greenberg and his wife, Chavi, of Monsey, NY. “If you come across other places that need a room like this, please put them in touch with us,” said Chavi Gareenberg, who attended the event along with her husband.
Gary Horan, CEO and president of Trinitas, described the room as “a unique facility” where, at a time of extreme anxiety, members of the Jewish community can come for prayer and reflection, “as their loved ones are being healed in the hospital.”
Danny Kahane knows from personal experience how welcome such a space can be. Almost 40 years ago, he recalled, he brought his wife to Trinitas to give birth to their daughter.
To gain access to the room, users have to either ask a staff member or use a code for an electronic lock. Trinitas vice president and chief development officer Nadine Brechner chose the decor, which offers a mellow, almost homey feel, with caramel walls and an array of Jewish-themed pictures.
Elizabeth resident Yanina Haas was among the first users of the room when it was first completed early in June, when her husband Gordon suffered heart trouble while attending a synagogue service.
“We were at the hospital for hours and hours, on Shabbat,” she recalled. “I hadn’t eaten, so it was wonderful to have this room, with the food they’ve provided.”