Repairing the World: A Personal Prayer
by Karin Segal
I’ve worked with the Metrowest Free Medical Program from it’s beginning- when it was just an idea and a precious dream, until now, when over 25 patients come weekly for medical care, and over 70 Beth El volunteers regularly transform our sanctuary from a place for study and prayer, to a place for healing the world. I feel lucky to have medical training, and I feel privileged to have come from a family who taught me that health care is not a privilege, but a basic human right.
I’ve witnessed countless incredible moments:
A heart transplant patient comes…the medical system has let her down. AMAZING- she has a new heart…. MORE AMAZING- she’s been denied insurance for some of her transplant medications. Our volunteer Social Workers help her get the insurance she needs- when she returns with cookies and hugs, we all share her smile.
Our semi-retired orthopedists is in the loft with a patient. There’s no rehab equipment like he’s used to, no x-ray machine…good grief, there’s not even an exam table. He’s on the floor with the patient demonstrating leg exercises. They have to help each other get up and…they’re both laughing. Do Mitzvah’s always feel this good??
An older couple comes – they’ve recently immigrated from Latvia – the man speaks a little English and a lot of Yiddish – many of us think he looks like our grandfathers – we’re drawn to him like a magnet, saying our few Yiddish words…”Kennehora, lochencup, schvitz.” The Doctor diagnoses and treats his infection. We all feel really good.
Every single volunteer contributes to creating this Mitzvah from scratch every single week. Giving so much, getting even more in return.
And then there are the volunteers who come before the patients arrive or after 9 at night. They move tables, lug equipment up and down the stairs, schlep chairs and clean up. And they never get the Brazilian cookies, or their picture in the newspaper. And they never get the countless hugs, thank yous or God Bless Yous that accent every night for the rest of us. They don’t get the satisfaction of controlling a patient’s asthma or treating a bad cough. And they never get to exchange Yiddish with Grandpa look-a-likes.
They perform a Mitzvah without any obvious rewards – Is this the highest form of giving? Knowing inside you’re acting with righteousness without thanks or recognition? They are my heroes.
Holy One of Blessing- guide me to continue doing the good work that I’m fortunate to have the training and the time to do. Help me keep fighting the good fight. I love this work and what we’ve created in this holy place. I treasure this expression of being Jewish.
Read more about the Metrowest Free Medical Program.