Bikur Cholim

My father spent the better part of August in the hospital.

He’s doing much better now, temporarily rehabbing at the Daughters of Sarah, thank you for asking.

As many of you unfortunately know, COVID has placed severe restrictions on families’ ability to visit loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes. We were allowed two guests per day, which it’s tough to complain about considering no visitors were allowed for most of the past 18 months.

But, during one of my daily conversations with Rabbi Bomzer, it occurred to me that we’re not really limited to only two family members per day. As SPHP’s Chaplain, he visited my dad in the hospital regularly, and Community Chaplain Rabbi Ami has taken over since Dad’s move to Daughters. My synagogue’s Rabbi Kean has been frequently visiting in both places. These rabbis each provided a spark for my dad and real comfort for the family, knowing that they were visiting when we could not.

“Rob – you are showing your insider privilege. You are the CEO of the Jewish Federation. Of course the rabbis spend time with your family.”

Nope. In fact, every member of the Jewish community is entitled to this service. Perhaps I am privileged to consider the rabbis as part of my extended family? Again, with a little effort, each of us has this ability as well. Go to synagogue. Chat at kiddish. Take a class. On the High Holidays, clergy might seem distant, but nearly every other day of the year, our clergy are totally approachable.

27 years ago, our oldest child was born on Rosh Hashanah. Close family friend Rabbi Silton walked down to Albany Med to blow shofar for us. My wife and I were in our mid 20s and it was 19 years before my becoming CEO – no insider privilege necessary.

Bikur cholim (visiting the sick) is a mitzvah (commandment) and a core tenet of Jewish values. Jewish Federation helps fund Community Chaplaincy. This service is available to all who seek it.


Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. We remember the victims and the heroes who selflessly gave their lives to save others. May their memories be for a blessing.


Wednesday evening brings in Yom Kippur. G’mar chatima tova! May we all finish with a good sealing (in the Book of Life.)

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