web analytics
March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


A Memorable Visit To A Very Different Hospital

            As a congregational rabbi, I often see people in hospitals and other health care facilities. While each building may look different, the actual differences are rather minute. It was my privilege recently to visit a hospital that is a definite exception to that rule.

 

            Several weeks ago I traveled together with Larry Babitts to Washington to visit patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. With its patient population consisting mainly of wounded U.S. soldiers and a staff decked out in army-issue camouflage hospital scrubs and combat boots, visiting Walter Reed was an entirely new experience for me.

 

            I wanted to visit Walter Reed with Larry in order to thank our brave soldiers for their service. I also wanted to let them know that American Jews truly appreciate their sacrifices in the war against terror.

 

            Larry, a longtime friend of my synagogue, Kesher Israel Congregation of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran who was wounded in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In addition to being active in a number of veteran-related activities, Larry regularly travels from Harrisburg to Walter Reed to visit, comfort and lift the spirits of soldiers who have been wounded on the battlefield.

 

            While driving to Washington, Larry explained his dedication to this unique act of chesed (kindness). While serving as an infantryman during the Korean War, Larry had his legs shattered by an enemy landmine that killed some of his fellow soldiers.

 

            Realizing his group had ventured into a heavily mined area, Larry could only writhe in pain, thinking no one would risk his life to evacuate him. But one brave soldier was determined to get Larry off of that Korean hilltop. Though he vividly remembers the sound of the soldier’s voice, to this day Larry has absolutely no idea who the soldier was or even what he looked like.

 

            Larry was eventually evacuated to the U.S. where he spent almost two years at Walter Reed recovering from his wounds. Unable to thank the soldier whose act of kindness saved his life, Larry reciprocates by visiting and sharing his story with a new generation of wounded soldiers. He does his best to encourage those whose experiences he can so clearly relate to.

 

            We had a chance to visit with a few young soldiers and their families. The first patient we saw was a fellow Pennsylvanian who’d been wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq. While all his limbs were thankfully intact, he had suffered a severe concussion and faced a long recovery. Both he and his family appreciated our visit. (I realized I’d just read about this soldier’s injury in that Saturday’s newspaper. I told his family how amazed I was that the army had transferred him to Walter Reed by Monday morning.)

 

            The second soldier we saw was a young officer whose vehicle had been hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) in Afghanistan. His wife at his bedside, he was recovering from having had one of his legs amputated below the knee. I was impressed by his positive attitude. He told us he had nothing but gratitude for the army’s efforts. He had been injured about a year and a half earlier; army surgeons had operated more than ten times in an effort to save his leg.

 

            While we talked, he thanked a visiting doctor for the hospital’s efforts on his behalf. “No private health insurance would’ve paid for ten surgeries,” he joked.

 

            I hope the wounded soldiers and their family members took comfort from my visit, but I clearly saw how much they appreciated Larry’s. In him they saw someone who understood their pain, anxieties and concerns – someone who spent two years recovering in Walter Reed and then went on to lead and enjoy a fulfilling life.

 

            Obviously, encountering a caring human being with a shared set of experiences went a long way to provide those brave young men with a greater sense of hope, optimism, and comfort.

 

            Visiting Walter Reed with Larry Babitts reminded me of a very important lesson. Many centuries ago our sages taught us that in the midst of a crisis, knowledge that others have dealt with a similar challenge can be a great source of comfort.

 

            To some extent, each of us has had to deal with trying situations. Sharing our experiences with others in similar straits is an extraordinary act of chesed. Letting others know we can relate to their pain can make a world of a difference to someone facing one of life’s many challenges.


 


 


            Rabbi Akiva Males is spiritual leader of Kesher Israel Congregation of Harrisburg, PA. He can be reached at the Kesher Israel office (717-238-0762) or at rabbimales@yahoo.com.

About the Author: Kesher Israel Congregation’s Rabbi Akiva Males can be reached at rabbimales@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Memorable Visit To A Very Different Hospital”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Some 1,500 teens from around the world at the Chabad CTeen convention hear a personal greeting from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 1, 2015.
Ban Ki-moon Greets 1,500 Jewish Teens at Chabad CTeen Convention
Latest Sections Stories
Golan Wine Medals

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

More Articles from Rabbi Akiva Males
Statue of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon

The power of “positive campaigning;” Nothing quenches your soul’s thirst like Torah.

Males-031414

At the core of traditional Judaism is the belief that our world has a Creator. This Creator knows all that goes on in our world, and remains actively involved in all of its events – no matter how insignificant some of those events might seem.

In a short span of time our shul raised and distributed thousands of dollars for relief organizations.

In 2007 my parents decided it was time to downsize and sell their home of more than thirty years. To help them pack up and move into their new apartment, I returned to Cleveland to offer my assistance.

Two recent experiences served to drive home the point to me that – with apologies to the popular Disney musical boat ride “It’s a Small World” – it really is a small Jewish world.

“Rabbi, is there any religious requirement for Jewish men to wear mezuzahs around their necks?”

“Rabbi, if you yourself are clean-shaven, why does this inmate claim his Jewish religion prohibits him from using a razor on his face?”

We are all aware of the terrible divisions among Israel’s Jewish population. My friends and colleagues in Israel tell me they cannot remember a time in recent years where so much fragmentation existed. All this when the external threats facing Israel grow greater by the day.

No matter our stage in life, one is seldom comfortable feeling left out. Unfortunately, many American Jews experience exactly that feeling each year as Christmas approaches. The term “December Dilemma” is used to describe the tension many Jews feel sitting on the sidelines, unable to fully enjoy or participate in the distinctly Christian themes and activities occurring all around.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/a-memorable-visit-to-a-very-different-hospital/2009/07/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: