Click HERE for photos: It was quite early in the evening in Lakewood, NJ and already the streets surrounding Bais Faiga Hall were flooded with cars as parking spaces became increasingly scarce. It was no wonder, for this was the 10th anniversary Reception of Chai Lifeline Lakewood, whose work on behalf of Lakewood’s cholim is held in highest regard throughout the community.
Indeed, over 3,000 men and women attended the event, in a massive display of chizuk and nesias ol for Chai Lifeline and the families that they assist. The attendance of the Roshei Yeshiva, distinguished rabbonim, askanim and community members representing the entire spectrum of the Kehila underscored the special place that Chai Lifeline Lakewood holds in the collective heart of a community greatly admiring its achievements.
The program began aptly with amiras tehillim recited by Rabbi Aaron Schustal on behalf of Lakewood’s cholim. Reb Nossi Muller, who emceed the event, opened the evening by describing the remarkable work of Chai Lifeline in our community and the z’chus of having our own “schluchei d’rachmanah” in our midst. The Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Dovid Schustal Shlita, spoke next, stressing the importance of coming together and being mechazek the “Amud Hachesed” of our Kehilah, Chai Lifeline Lakewood.
Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline, echoed the feelings of the entire Lakewood staff: “We are once again strengthened and inspired by a Kehilah who gives of their time to come to support us tonight. One of the many ramifications of living with serious illness is the sense of loneliness and isolation,” he said.
“These feelings are what make the nisayon of illness so intense and acute. When cholim see that thousands of people come out in support of the organization devoted to them, and in honor of the superb staff and hundreds of volunteers who make up the organization, this gives them chizuk to forge on in the face of great odds.”
There is no one who can tell the story of Chai Lifeline Lakewood as well as those who have experienced it for themselves. Reb Chaim Zalman Herzka, father of a baby who was born with a 5% chance of survival, shared his story with the spellbound audience. “For the six months that our baby was hospitalized at CHOP, Chai Lifeline was literally family. They were there to hold our hand and to provide whatever we needed. It wasn’t only about food, rides, and volunteers. It was the feeling that they were sharing in our suffering, that our problems were their problems, that our pain was their pain…we could not have survived our ordeal without the support of Chai Lifeline. “
Rav Moshe Yaakov Kanner’s stirring words of chizuk and bitachon were followed by a moving audio-visual presentation depicting the work of Chai Lifeline. The total picture was overwhelming. To think that all this is taking place locally, for our families, our friends and our neighbors. To think that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent this year alone, alleviating pain, sorrow and distress. To think that over 750 of our community members are active volunteers, bringing hope, love and laughter to our children and their families.
The vital role that Chai Lifeline plays in our Kehilah is acknowledged by all and, in turn, the support of our community is a crucial component for our continued achievements. We are very grateful to the thousands of individuals who already responded to our call and participated in this year’s campaign.
Thank you once again and may we soon merit the day when all machlos and tzaros afflicting our children and families are gone from our world forever. Wishing you a healthy summer, good health and hatzlocha for many years to come.
Rabbi Sruli Fried, MSW Rabbi Arye Adest
Regional Director, Chai Lifeline Director of Community Development, NJ