Friday, October 16, 2009

Friends and a Hospital Vist

While the majority of this week was more or less a routine week, there were a couple of shining moments.

1. FRIENDS...As many of you know, I attended Yeshivat Shaalvim 1976-1978. Coupled with my education (High School and post-High School) at Beis Midrash L'Torah (Skokie Yeshiva), I was fortunate to have had a fabulous education. At Shaalvim, I succeeded in making friends with whom I have remained in contact over 30 years. In spite of the fact that many made Aliya in the late-70's, and I was still living in Chicago, we remained in contact all these years. The other night, I attended the wedding of the daughter of one of those friends. Steve (and Carol) Rosenbaum married off a daughter this week in Mitzpe Yericho and I had the pleasure of attending. What made it SO special was the group of guys I was sitting with and what this group represented. I had the chance to see friends from Shaalvim whom I had remained in contact and at the same time, I saw some of the guys I had NOT seen in over 30 years. It was a FABULOUS reunion! But what it represented was even deeper than that. When my friend Steve Rosenbaum got married, four of his Shaalvim buddies were "eidim," witnesses at the wedding, two in the Ketuba and two for the Kiddushin. Three of this four "eidim" had made Aliya years earlier, and I was the last to make Aliya. Steve was able to look at our table and see ALL FOUR of his "eidim" sitting together, all four of whom had made Aliya! We were all together again and we took a group picture. It was an incredible was quite surreal.
Mazal Tov to Steve, Carol and the entire family!
At the same time, we had yet another wedding which I could not attend, but one that Andy DID attend. Andy went to the wedding of the daughter of Barbara (Maryles) and Raanan (Ko) Ashkenazy, which was held in Alon at Eretz Breisheet. She had the chance to re-connect with many of her Shevet Shuva and Chicago chevra, along with some from Shevet Moriah. Mazal Tov to the Ashkenazy and Maryles families!

2. A Hospital Visit...I had occassion to visit a former student (Sruli Gutstein) in the hospital as he had an emergency appendectomy the other day. (He is doing great, Baruch Hashem!) He was in the Shaarei Tzedek Hospital on the 8th floor. I had been to the hospital before but never (that I recall) was I upstairs on that floor. As I walked down the hallway, I noticed something that struck me very sharply...a Bet Midrash/Bet Kenesset. In many hospitals, Jewish or non-Jewish, most often there is a chapel of sorts. When I would make hospital visitations in Chicago, invariably I walked by a chapel. It always made me a little "jealous" that there was a chapel and not some form of JEWISH worship available. But, after all, we do/did live in a Christian land and that was the majority of the hospitals.
What a sense of pride I had as I walked into the Bet Midrash to check it out. I expected a small room, some siddurim and a few tattered Chumashim. WOW, was I wrong! The Bet Midrash/Bet Kenesset was beautiful! It was a regular, operational Bet Kenesset. NEVER would you think you were in a hospital! What a Kiddush was also very nice to see SO many practitioners who were Dati walking down the halls. I felt this way anytime I would see a doctor in Chicago walking in the hospital with a Kippah. But to see home, Zev!

As I was exiting the hospital, though, I stopped cold in my tracks as I stared for a number of moments at a large picture of Dr. David Applebaum hy"d (former Chicagoan) hanging on the wall. David, and his daughter, Navah, hy"d had been murdered the night before Navah was to marry. As I stood there, looking at the picture, I thought about the wedding dress of Navah that I saw at Kever Rachel and how she would never wear that dress. Upstairs in the hospital, I received such joy from seeing the Bet Midrash. Here, I experienced the pain of the murder of two wonderful human beings. Those few minutes in the hospital truly embodied the idea of "the best of times and the worst of times."