As the “third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic rages away, several disheartening stories have come into the news: Patients left screaming for nurses too overwhelmed to come to their aid, patients placed in hospital gift shops due to lack of space, and even the tragic passing of a woman whose respirator came unplugged. Staff have had to make devastating decisions as to which lives to save, and once patients have been placed on respirators, it is difficult to get them off. For these reasons and more it has become clear that while it is important to seek medical assistance when necessary, those sick with the virus should do all they can to remain home, and avoid COVID wards.
Earlier this year, Rav Avraham Yaakov Solomon saw this crisis, and decided to do something about it. With the help of a team of volunteers, Rav Solomon began to collect and distribute oxygen concentrators for home use. His team, who call themselves ‘Rofeh LeYisroel,’ now have 120 concentrators being used full time. They also offer volunteers to help with the machines, and advice and guidance of rabbanim and doctors. By allowing patients to keep up their oxygen levels and make it through moderate cases of COVID at home, they are literally saving lives.
Verified success stories include a grandmother with cancer who was able to make it through COVID thanks to Rofeh LeYisroel’s help, and another patient who was told by doctors that he would not make it but thanks to Solomon is now living healthfully. One man tearfully recalled arriving at Rav Solomon’s door at 2am asking for help, and being greeted with a smile.
The success story, however, is far from complete. Numbers are at an all-time high, and Rofeh LeYisroel has run out of stock of oxygen concentrators. In the past week alone, they have had to turn away 16 families. They have taken on another ambitious goal: To raise funds to purchase 100 more concentrators, to help save 100 more lives. They have no resources left and will only reach their goal if they manage to spread their message internationally.
With negative portrayals of frum Jews filling the news, the stories of men like Rav Solomon are more heartwarming than ever. Despite antisemitic rhetoric, religious people continue to fight the virus as volunteers of Hatzolah, MADA, ZAKA, and more. After the pandemic has come and gone, history will remember these frum heroes. And if Rofeh LeYisroel can reach its goal, hundreds more will be alive to remember them as well.