Thursday, June 9, 2011


What a Difference a Visit Makes!

Summer vacation is over and tomorrow Bracha and her cousins Dena and Aviva and are starting their senior year at The Beit Chaya School that they attend. Fridays in school, are a special day for the senior class. This is the morning the girls do their chessed program by volunteering at the Jewish organization in their city. Over the years the girls learnt what a special mitzvah it is to help the less fortunate.

Posted on the school bulletin board are many different chessed programs the girls can choose from. Each girl has to sign her name to the first and second chessed program that they wanted to do. The school said that they would try to give each girl their first choose.

To help make it easier to choose, on the first Friday of school, their Principal, Rabbi Schwartz organized an assembly and invited speakers from the different organizations came to speak to tell why they needed volunteers and what they expected in a volunteer.

Rabbi Schwartz spoke at length about the meaning of volunteering and doing chessed. He said chessed in Hebrew means ‘acts of loving kindness and volunteering means to give of yourself by helping others. Combined, he told the girls, you will be doing a great kindness and fulfilling an important mitzvah.

Besides being first cousins, Bracha, Dena and Aviva are great friends and do everything together. And volunteering was no exception. The girls decided they wanted to do their chessed together at the children’s hospital. When it was time for the speaker from the hospital, the girls listened very carefully to all the details. The hospital was looking for girls who were friendly, reliable and would be able to entertain their young patients. They knew this is where they really wanted to volunteer.

When it was time to sign up, they quickly signed their names beside the option of going to the children's hospital. The girls had a plan. When they went to visit they would bring with their musical instruments. Bracha plays the guitar, Dena plays the tambourine and synthesizer and Aviva can play the accordion. Together, they made a great band.

On their first trip to the hospital, the girls made an Oneg Shabbat for the children. They played musical requests from the children, nurses and doctors. Everyone was singing and clapping. A wonderful time was had by all. The young patients had a reason to forget why they were in the hospital. Everyone was happy and smiling.

The parents who were visiting their children were so happy to see their children enjoying themselves. They thanked Bracha, Dena and Aviva for coming and spending time at the hospital, and the girls felt great satisfaction in knowing their visit made a difference.

Each week one of the girls would tell a Shabbat story. And of course there was always a special activity or two.

Bracha is great at card tricks and her young friends would sit 'wide eyed' as they watched the speed of her hands move quickly across the cards. Everyone would clap and when she was finished they all wanted to know how to do the tricks.

Aviva loved to tell riddles. One by one laughing and excited, the children would call out different answers.

Dena is the composer of the group and she loves to teach the young patients a poem or a song that she wrote. This week she is teaching a Shabbat poem.


Mother lights the Shabbat candles

as her family surrounds her.

She covers her eyes

and says the ancient Bracha.

Together they answer, "Amein!"

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

The candles gently flicker.

The table is set with the best dishes

and the wine bottle without the label.

The challah is covered, waiting its turn,

to give the mitzvah of another Bracha.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

The family welcomes the Shabbat Malka,

singing Shalom Aleichim.

Father recites the Kiddush,

together they answer, "Amein!"

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

Now its the challah's turn

to be in the spotlight.

Father recites the Bracha

and together they answer, "Amein!"

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

The Shabbat day is peaceful

no cars, telephones or business.

The gift, Hashem gave to His people,

to enjoy for all eternity.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

The morning passes quickly and now it is time for the girls to leave. They wish each child Shabbat Shalom and a Refu'a Shelayma. Next Friday, Im Yirtzeh Hashem, they will return to bring a smile and some joy to their young friends who have to remain in the hospital.

As the girls walk home, Aviva tells her cousins how fortunate it is they are healthy and able to spend Shabbat at home with their families. "Next week," Aviva continues, "Let's make a little play for the children, using some of the patients." Dena and Bracha agree and they plan to meet and start working on the play Moetzi Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

I hope you enjoyed my story. Please feel free to comment [below] and forward the story to your friends.

Until next time….

Safta Miriam

* not a real school

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