It has been very emotional 24 hours.
Just a few weeks ago, everything was planned down to the last detail.
We will have a beautiful Purim party for the community, together with Chabad of Teaneck.
We will be visiting patients at five locations — the hospital and four other rehab centers in the area.
We will bring them the joy of Purim, even as they are being hospitalized and unable to attend any Purim event. We will read for them the Megillah, and give them Shalach Manot.
And then… the coronavirus hit.
Two volunteers called to cancel. Their doctor recommended they shouldn’t be visiting at the hospital.
The yeshivah student that was supposed to come and read the Megillah was not feeling well.
Another volunteer was unable to join.
All of it, just a day before Purim.
Phone calls, emails, urgent Facebook pleas… in the end, Baruch Hashem, somehow we managed to find other volunteers.
Monday night. The night of Purim. Despite all, close to 200 people joined our Purim party and had a great time.
At the same time, our first team was making their way to read the Megillah at one of the rehab centers. One of their stops was by a person with ALS. He can’t talk or move, but with his eyes, he said: “Thank you!”
The following morning, our team met at the hospital.
We decided that we want this Purim to be special for the patients. So we got two yeshivah students from the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown — with their guitars!
At a waiting lounge, we are meeting a rabbi from Lakewood whose wife just finished a long surgery. “Sing a song in Yiddish” he is asking. And we sing. He is closing his eyes.
I can imagine him thinking about Purim back at home. Now, he is at the hospital, praying for full healing for his wife. He didn’t expect to have too much of Purim at the halls where everyone seems to be worried and concerns.
But yes! Purim can, should and is being celebrated right here!
We go to visit another patient. And another. This is so emotional. At some point at the oncology department, we are asked to don masks and gloves to protect the safety of the patients.
Can you play the guitar with gloves? You bet! If you want to bring joy, nothing is going to stop you.
I see tears in their eyes and I am getting emotional too. The power of Purim should send healing to all of those special people we met, and to everyone around the world who needs healing!
At the children’s hospital, we read the Megillah to a young mother. Her newborn is in NICU, but she insists on celebrating Purim and listening to the Megillah.
After the hospital, we receive a phone call from one of the rehab centers. “We are sorry, due to the coronavirus, we don’t allow entrance to all outside volunteers”…
I am rushing home to pick up my children, and we head over to another rehab center on our list. The smiles we see are warming our hearts. Singing, clapping, joy. This is what Purim is all about.
We are wrapping up our day. Unfortunately, we didn’t even visit everyone we wanted to. Next year, we will need to double the number of our volunteers so we can reach everyone.
I want to thank from our bottom of my heart to all the volunteers (both those who came and those who had to cancel), our partners and supporters, and all of the administrations who made this Purim so special for so many!
Shabbat Shalom! And may we share good news soon!