The Shmooze

Rabbi and Doctors Mingle At Calvary Gala

By Masha Leon

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If ever the idea of loving kindness was a statement of fact — rather than an ideal — it was expressed by youthful Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger, Jewish chaplain at Calvary Hospital, in his invocation delivered at the hospital’s upbeat 30th Annual Award Gala.

Addressing the 450 black tie guests at The Pierre, the rabbi thanked Calvary Hospital president and CEO Frank Calamari, its Chairman of the Board Dr. Thomas Fahey Jr., Sr. V.P. Emeritus Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the evening’s honoree Frank D’Amelio, Executive Vice President, Business Operations & CFO Pfizer, Inc., “for the honor.” Also touted was Calvary’s executive medical director Dr. Michael Brescia, who has been with the hospital for 50 years.”

Karen Leon
Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger and Dr. Michael Brescia

Citing Psalm 89:3 which states: “For I have said the world shall be built with loving kindness,” Rabbi Rothberger said, “looking round the room, we can positively proclaim that we aspire to model the verse on building the world with loving-kindness as we represent a full spectrum of cultures of the world. Calvary Hospital a truly unique place. The only fully acute palliative hospital, we are blessed with the power to unite people of all walks of life…in our programs.”

Though Calvary Hospital has long had a Jewish chaplain, this past November it announced a joint Calvary and Yeshiva University collaboration to serve the needs of observant Jews who need access to the best end-of-life care.

Honoree D’Amelio who accepted the award from past honoree Steven Golub, Chairman of the Board of the Calvary Fund, said: “When one member has cancer or a terminal disease, then the entire family is affected.” Like many in the audience whose loved ones were cared for at Calvary, he touted the hospital’s unique —“and rare”— loving care and support for patient and family. Most resonant was Mr. D’Amelio’s comment, “at Calvary, a room is not a patient room but rather a tabernacle or sacred place.” That Calvary Hospital serves as the vestibule to the ‘other side.’” That “the strip of black tape on the floor across the doorway of each room is a reminder that we’re crossing into a sacred place.”

Following up on the Yeshiva-Calvary shiddakh/shiddukh (marriage/merger), I was informed that the two staff rabbis who offer pastoral care are graduates of Y.U.’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), that kosher meals, a kosher pantry, kosher refrigerator and sink are available and that Jewish patients are included in the Einstein Pelham Parkway eruv —and more!

Emceed by WOR’s “The John Gambling Show” host John Gambling, with a performance by tenor Michael Amante, plus post-dinner dancing, I cannot remember as happy — or grateful a hospital benefit crowd as were the guests that night.


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