Helping SAJers help each other
Anyone who visits a sick person removes one sixtieth of their suffering.
—Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 39b
Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba fell ill and Rabbi Yohanan went in to visit him.
Rabbi Yohanan said to him: “Are your sufferings welcome/beloved to you?”
He replied: “Neither they nor their reward.”
He said to him: “Give me your hand.”
He gave him his hand and Rabbi Yohanan raised and healed him.
—Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 5b
Just as the Holy One visits the sick, as Torah tells us with regard to God’s appearing to Abraham following his circumcision, “And Adonai appeared to him by the trees of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1), so too, you should visit the sick. Just as the Holy One comforts mourners, as Torah tells us, “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son” (Genesis 25:11), so too, you should comfort mourners.
—Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 14a
WHAT dOes the caring committee do?
SAJ members, through the Caring Committee, do the following:
- Support SAJ families after a loss by
- Attending Shiva prayer services via Zoom
- Setting up for, and cleaning up after, Shiva visits (Covid-permitting)
- Attending Shiva prayer services in the mourner’s home (Covid-permitting)
- Support SAJ members during an illness by
- Arranging for meals for those recovering from acute illness
- Calling members at home or in the hospital
- Visiting members at home or in the hospital (Covid-permitting)
- Accompanying members to and from medical appointments (Covid-permitting)
- Support SAJ families welcoming a new child through childbirth or adoption by
- Arranging for meals for families
- Sending families a card to welcome the new child
- Support SAJ members who live alone by calling or visiting on a regular basis
All committee activities are done in consultation with the Rabbi and the SAJ office. (The committee cannot provide ongoing meals for those with chronic illness, but the office can connect older members with SAJ’s own DOROT social worker, Jane Blumenstein, at JBlumenstein@dorotusa.org or 917-441-3740, who has information about social supports, including meals, that may be available through other resources.)
HOW DO I COntact the caring committee for support?
Caring Committee help is available to all SAJ congregants. If you need support, or know of another congregant who could use support, please call the office at 212-724-7000 (press 3 for the Rabbi or 6 for the Administrative Director). Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Caring Committee request” in the subject line. Note also that the weekly bulletin emailed to congregants contains Caring Committee contact information.
HOW CAN I Help Others Through the Caring Committee?
Any congregant can volunteer to provide support through the Caring Committee. If you have an hour or two to spare on an occasional basis, the office can add you to the Caring Committee’s contact list. You can sign up to help with:
- Shiva needs
- Providing meals for members who are sick or are welcoming a new child
- Bikkur holim: visiting the sick or elderly
As the need arises, a Caring Committee coordinator will call or email you to ask whether you are free to take on one of these specific tasks. If you volunteer to help out in one of these ways, you are not required to say yes to every “ask.” You can volunteer as many or as few times as you like. The Caring Committee works hard to ensure that volunteers are the ones to set the limits on their involvement. Every commitment to complete a caring task is greatly appreciated, not only by the recipient, but also by committee members and the community at large.
To volunteer with the Caring Committee, please contact the coordinators, Shelley Messing and Donna Gitter.
Community Resource List—a collection of agencies and organizations to contact for support around bereavement, cancer, housing, disability, and more
“Visiting a Mourner During Shiva”—a brief guide to paying Shiva visits
“Our tradition recognizes cycles. I have received the care of the community and it affirmed a powerful connection. When I show up for a Shiva minyan, send a meal, or respond to the call however I can, I honor my part in the cycle, my connection to our community, and ultimately to the Jewish people.”
“It is rare in modern life to belong to a sizable community of people who show up for each other. That is why I so strongly value being involved with the SAJ Caring Committee, which connects me with other congregants at different important moments in our lives and allows me to help maintain the bonds of our community.”
“The community’s support was invaluable in my moving forward in a very dark and difficult time. I cannot thank SAJ enough for what it has done for me.”