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India attack inspires hospitality home

A callous attack in India has inspired Jewish students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Einstein campus Chabad to help families in need.

On Tuesday, January 5, the Einstein Chabad opened the Holtzberg Hospitality Home, named for Gabriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the Chabad emissaries murdered by terrorists in 2008 in Mumbai.

The Holtzberg Hospitality Home will cater to hospital patients and family members of hospital patients in the Bronx. Chabad is a branch of Orthodox Judaism.

Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, who runs the Einstein Chabad, had noted the need prior to the Holtzberg tragedy. Many patients at hospitals in the Bronx hail from outside of the borough.

Teitelbaum often fields anxious phone calls from Orthodox Jews: a young man had been injured and his wife needed somewhere to rest between emergency room visits…an elderly woman had no family left in the Bronx and appreciated a hospital visitor…a mother who kept Kosher was hungry in a Catholic hospital.

Emergencies sometimes strand Orthodox Jewish families in the Bronx on Saturdays; Orthodox Jews don’t drive on the Sabbath, Teitelbaum explained. Jacobi Medical Center public affairs director Hannah Nelson has often asked Teitelbaum to help.

The rabbi suggested that the Einstein Chabad open a hospitality home. When Einstein students heard about the Holtzbergs, who hosted Jews in Mumbai, the idea gained steam.

“More than 30 students attended our next meeting,” Teitelbaum said.

Student Elisheva Levine had volunteered with the Holtzbergs herself.

“I wanted to help,” Levine said. “To offer people support – food, somewhere to stay – is so important.”

The Einstein Chabad has acquired a Sackett Avenue house on loan and will host families in need. Scores of Einstein students have signed up to volunteer. Soon, those families will be able to phone a Holtzberg Hospitality Home hotline.

Teitelbaum has already installed an online request form at www.chabadmed.com. The Holtzberg Hospitality Home offers beds, hospital visits, clergy visits and kosher meals at Einstein, Jacobi, Calvary Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital, Westchester Square Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division and Montefiore North Division. Submitted request forms trigger texts and emails to student volunteers.

Although the hospitality home has partnerships with a kosher food company in Brooklyn and the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, which donates toys, it still needs furniture for the Sackett Avenue house and more. To lend a hand, visit www.chabadmed.com/holtzberg.

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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