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June 20, 2003 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-20

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Every Day With Morrie

ast month, I attended a
week-long workshop for
training in pastoral care in
New York City. Eleven rab-
bis and cantors were chosen from
around the United States.
No words can describe the intensi-
ty of this pastoral care kallah. The
emotional journey that our group
experienced will forever affect my
ministry in the area of illness and
A typical day started with a 9 a.m.
arrival at the hospital site. My
assignment was to be on the chap-
laincy staff for the week at Memorial
Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital on
E. 68th Street in Manhattan; we
would receive our daily list of
patients to visit. There are 19 floors.
Each floor is dedicated to specific
types of cancer: from juvenile and
youth floors, leukemia, AIDS to
uterine; and the list goes on.
Following the three- to four-hour,
one-on-one visitation period, we
would then assemble, hear speakers
and discuss the gut-wrenching sto-
ries of our previous encounters.
There was never a dry eye in the
room. We heard stories of a child on
her deathbed, of brave patients who
faced their last days on earth with
It seems we all encounter "loss" on
a regular basis, starting from an early
age. We lose our favorite treasured
possessions and our hockey or bas-
ketball championship game. We
bury our family pets and wave good-
bye to good friends who move to a
new location.


The deepest losses that we experi-
ence when growing up are those of
our close relatives, starting for some
of us with our childhood recollec-
tion of losing bubbie and zaydie.
But before bubbie and zaydie dis-
appeared from view, there was per-
haps the reminiscence, for some, of
seeing them in a hospital bed.
I remember it clearly as my grand-
pa never made it to my bar mitzvah.
He was truly the patriarch of our
family. He was the last one we can
remember who led the family
Passover seders totally in Hebrew.
At age 12, I visited him in the
hospital room after studying and
preparing for my bar mitzvah so
intensely, motivated by the idea that
he would be there and be very proud
of me.
Instead, one month before, I stood
there at his hospital bed, chanted my
Torah and Haftorah portions to him
and sang Adon Olam. This descrip-
tion of my loss experience is dwarfed
when compared to those whose lives
I touched over those six days in May.

Stephen Dubov is the cantor and spiri-
tual leader of Congregation Chaye Olam
in West Bloomfield.

The first floor I visited was the 11th
floor. This is the "head and neck"
floor. Anyone entering any patient's
room on this floor was required to
wear a mask and rubber gloves. Not
because you would catch something,
but these patients are susceptible to
what people can bring in from the
After each visit, you are required
to wash your hands.
The very first person I visited was
Mark. Mark is 33 with throat and
neck cancer. He is in Sloan
Kettering for his third "chemo" visit.

He is a true hero. He told
away she called to me to
me how thankful he was to
pray for her.
have his brain and bodily
I asked if she would like to
functions all working. He
pray together right now. She
said that being in the hospi-
invited me back to pray. I
tal setting for so long, it
prayed with her; and when
helps him realize how lucky
we finished, she invited me
he is and how thankful he
to stay and talk.
should be.
Another patient, Nancy,
His neighbor lost both legs
informed me she has only a
to cancer and Mark truly had
week or two left. She added
the right attitude. We
that her mother died of
Communi ty
prayed, thanking God for
only three weeks ago.
Mark's very remarkable
She was worried about her
two daughters who haven't
Herbert has a rare form of cancer
gotten married; she was upset her
of the inner eye. He has lost sight in
life is over and she never had the joy
his left eye and the doctors say his
of having grandchildren. I prayed
sight will not return; there is the
with her and sang,
possibility it could also affect the
Le:chi Lach — to a place that God
other eye.
will show you.
He said he feels alone and men-
Lech Lcha — to a place you do not
tioned he was very worried about
handling this by himself. I let him
Lechi Lach — on your journey may
know he did not have to go through
God bless you.
this alone and there is an alternative.
And you have been a blessing, you are
I explained that God would take this a blessing and you shall be a blessing,
journey with him if he wished.
Lechi Lach.
He stated he never realized that. I
That week was truly a blessing in
showed him how to pray and sug-
my life and I am truly grateful for
gested to him to pray when he lies
the spiritual growth opportunity of
down, rises up, walks along the way
this experience. As a congregational
and in his home. He never was
leader, I know I benefited greatly
taught how to pray and was very
from this program and it will help
responsive to learn.
me to better meet my congregants'
This was the first time he ever
heard any of this. He thanked me
Most of all, my heart goes out to
and was very receptive.
those who dedicate their lives to
working in hospitals, visiting and
consoling on a daily basis. It was a
Sharon And Nancy
valuable, irreplaceable and enlighten-
Then there was Sharon. When I
ing experience to be part of a chap-
walked in the room and introduced
laincy team in a world renowned
myself, she mentioned she wasn't
research hospital and only begin to
feeling well today and didn't want a
understand what it's like to spend
visit today, but as I turned to walk
every day with Morrie. 1-1

Jews in Germany and the world had
it coming; the way they now pro-
mote the idea that Jewish "settlers"
have it coming.
And every Jew in Israel is a settler.
And every Jew in the world has it
coming because they are Zionists,
who support settlers. It's a page from
Mein Kampf.
Our own media are just as sicken-
ing. "After the attack on [Hamas
leader] Abdel al-Aziz Rantisi, all the
rules have changed," some idiot on
Israeli TV news actually said about

the June 8 bombing.
Rantisi has said, "We will not stop
until every man, woman and child
in Israel is dead; when Palestine is
wiped clean of the Jews."
He's been saying this for years.
What rules, idiot, are you talking
Our ineffectual, fumbling, mum-
bling government is just as bad. Just
another Judenrat.
And our people are so brave, so
brave. I saw them in the streets of
Jerusalem yesterday; and I thought,

looking at the hustle and bustle:
Nothing can stop us. If there is
another bomb, they will just clean it
up, bury the dead and go on. I
thought this with pride.
But now I don't know. Is it some-
thing to be proud of or something to
be ashamed of, this willingness to
bury and rebuild and go on in the
same direction until the next bomb?
We are being targeted for slaughter
— my family, the family of Israel in
our homeland that we didn't take
from anyone, that belongs to us and

Meeting Mark

only to us.
The same way they targeted us in
Europe when there was no Jewish
state, no settlers. Only, this time, we
have the ability to fight back, if only
our leadership would have the
courage to lead us — not down the
road mapped out by others, but by
the map we drew for ourselves when
we came back to Zion.
God save us from our enemies.
God save us from our "friends."
God save us from ourselves. ❑



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