SUMMER 2019 The Summer of Torah, Hesed, and Charity

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By: Pnina S. Souid


Home visits to Holocaust survivors are a vital part of the mission of The Mitzvah Man Organization. Brooklyn is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, and there is a large number of Holocaust survivors that reside there. Many survivors live alone, and some live under very difficult conditions.

One survivor’s world was changed by two very alert Mitzvah Man volunteers. These volunteers have a regular commitment to come to see a woman we will call Gittel. One sweltering 100 degrees summer day, the two volunteers went to visit Gittel.

They noticed that the apartment had no air conditioners or window fans. There was only a small handheld fan, and all the windows were sealed shut. Gittel was sitting with bruises on her legs, which had resulted from falls in the apartment. She was also having problems breathing, due to poisonous fumes emitted from chipping paint and from mold.

The volunteers reported back to the Mitzvah Man what they saw. Mitzvah Man immediately took on the job of taking care of the needed renovations. A volunteer was quickly dispatched to go to Gittel’s apartment and get out all the proper paperwork filled out and signed in order to be legally approved to perform the needed renovations.

Within 48 hours they had approval and Mitzvah Man Organization sent a handyman to install air conditioning, and another worker came to repair her floors and walls.

Possible tragedy was averted and Gittel was overwhelmed with happiness at the sight of her “new apartment.”

Mitzvah Man to the Rescue Again

In this case a Mitzvah Man volunteer provided help for a blind, elderly woman living alone, which helped her with a life-threatening emergency.

Elderly individuals live alone for many reasons. Sometimes there are no relatives to live with, and sometimes the elderly individual wants to feel independent, and stay in their own home without an aide. This woman, who we will call Ruth, felt that it was enough to have a Mitzvah Man volunteer come by each week and help her make calls and run errands. Ruth did not want a caretaker, but the Mitzvah Man volunteer was astute enough to realize that although a weekly visit was helpful, Ruth needed more than that. The volunteer knew exactly what Ruth could use, in addition to the weekly visits.

He was able to get Ruth a special phone, an “answering machine” that one could speak into. He got the machine programmed, and Ruth was set up properly. If Ruth needed groceries or medication from the pharmacy, or anything, she would just speak into the machine.

One night this answering machine proved to be a life saver. Ruth felt chest pains and was able to holler at the machine, “Call Hatzalah!” Hatzalah came immediately and took Ruth to the hospital. She was experiencing a heart attack! The doctors said that if ten more minutes had passed by before Hatzalah was alerted, Ruth’s heart attack would have been fatal.

Baruch Hashem, Ruth was able to make the call that saved her life, all because the Mitzvah Man volunteer saw the need, knew the solution, and acted wisely.