Bikur Cholim of Baltimore and Sinai Hospital celebrated the opening of its newly-constructed Bikur Cholim Kosher Hospitality Room with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this past week. Located just off the Blaustein Building lobby, the kosher pantry is a dedicated room where patients and families can find fresh Shabbos meals, hot coffee and kosher snacks, couches for respite and tables to enjoy a meal. The room is stocked and maintained by Bikur Cholim volunteers daily, with an array of items, including havdalah supplies, electric candles, seforim, Jewish newspapers and magazines.
The kosher hospitality room’s development came about through the commitment of Sinai Hospital to meet the needs of the kosher patient and the advocacy of Bikur Cholim of Baltimore. It is the 4th kosher hospital pantry opened in the last 24 months that is maintained by Bikur Cholim of Baltimore, joining the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Bikur Cholim Hospitality Room (located on the 6th floor of the Gudelsky Pavilion), the Johns Hopkins Hospital Bikur Cholim Pantry (Blalock 175), and the Sinai ER-7 Bikur Cholim Pantry. They provide free-of charge kosher food for families in the hospital, who are temporarily away from the readily available Jewish staples of their home and neighborhood.
An elegant brunch was presented for those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The remarks were begun by Hillel Tendler, Board member of Sinai Hospital and member of Bikur Cholim’s advisory council, who spoke of the strength of the relationship between Sinai Hospital and Bikur Cholim of Baltimore. He was followed by Rabbi Moshe Hauer, member of Bikur Cholim’s Rabbinic Advisory Board, who commented on the name Sinai attached to a hospital, as it is reminiscent of the Sinai experience, which included the healing of ailments. Rabbi Hauer remarked that the first healers in the Torah were Shifra and Puah, who essentially offered kind words and nourishment. Similarly, the Bikur Cholim Room allows families to be taken care of by the community as Sinai Hospital treats what ails. Neil Meltzer, President of Sinai Hospital, then spoke, expressing his appreciation of Bikur Cholim for bringing “the community to the bedside of the patients” and for the enthusiastic turnout being a “mark of a true partnership between the community and Sinai Hospital”. Lastly, Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, a board member of Bikur Cholim, spoke of the holy nature of the Bikur Cholim Room. The Bikur Cholim Recognition Award was presented to Neil Meltzer, President of Sinai Hospital and Ida Samet, Vice President of Sinai Hospital.
Bikur Cholim of Baltimore is comprised of over 250 volunteers dedicated to providing support to cholim in the Baltimore community and visitors from all over the world who come to receive medical care from our world-class hospitals. Patients and families are helped through a broad range of services, including fresh meals, transportation, respite and housing. Additional Bikur Cholim services include medical referrals, accommodations near hospitals and transportation for Shabbos and Yom Tov, medical equipment gemach, in-home visitation and birth night baby-sitting. These services are delivered by an energetic team of case managers and service coordinators working tirelessly to meet the needs of cholim. For over 25 years, a corps of volunteers has been visiting patients in area hospitals weekly.
The new Bikur Cholim Hospitality Room in Sinai Hospital is one of the many initiatives of Bikur Cholim’s advocacy for the needs of Jewish patients in area hospitals. This past year alone, Bikur Cholim has partnered with area hospitals to improve kosher hospital meals, incorporate halachic sensitivities in new hospital construction, ease access to hospital-sponsored Shabbos housing and arrange appropriate chaplaincy. The opening of the new Bikur Cholim Hospitality Room in Sinai Hospital is a very significant milestone in Bikur Cholim’s mission to lighten the burden on patients and families dealing with illness.
Dedication and sponsorship opportunities are available for this new room. Please call Bikur Cholim at 410-999-3700 for additional information. Bikur Cholim of Baltimore is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.