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Feb 15, 2009

The Mehadrin Kashrut Guide 2009 to Hadassah Ein Kerem

I am writing this post specifically for anybody who might need to stay in Hadassah Ein Kerem, especially over the course for a shabbos, and is wondering what to do about eating. I found very little helpful information before I went in this past week, and while I was there, I found all this out by word of mouth - other patients told me "oh, go down there and then.." or they will bring food at this time... etc... So if you find this post while doing a search to see what is available because you have to go in, this is for you.

This is specifically for people who want to eat mehadrin, but it will also be of interest for people who eat regular Rabbanut, because only a patient gets hospital food, not their guest or escort. So, even if your kid who is the patient gets food he can eat, you still are wondering what you are going to eat for three days (or however long your stay is going to be) as you bring your kid for his medical care.

The hospital is under the hasgacha of the Rabbanut. if you eat that hechsher, then chow down, if you are the patient. Even if you do not normally eat regular Rabbanut, if you are a patient you might be allowed to, depending on your medical situation. Speak to your rabbi about that.

I found the hospital very accommodating. This is all by word-of-mouth, there are no signs or anything letting you know this is available, but you are able to request mehadrin meals. When I was in the hospital, someone told me about this option. When the lady came in the morning to deliver the breakfast to my son, I asked if I could request mehadrin food for him. She said yes, wrote his name down, and his lunch was a mehadrin meal, which he surprisingly even ate and liked. I had been told you have to order separately every day, but I only ordered once, and my son has gotten mehadrin meals every day (I asked the second day and she told me he is already on the list).

Breakfast and dinner is not really an issue, as most of the items on the food tray are packaged - yoghurt/pudding, gvina levana, hard boiled egg, a triangle cheese, etc with the hechsher noted on it, and the hechsher was always, as far as I could tell, a badatz. The veggies are probably rabbanut, but if you want to eat them you could always separate your own truma and maaser if you are concerned.

So the patient is pretty well taken care of. Either he can eat what he is given, or you can order mehadrin for him.

But you are a guest. The hospital does not give you any food. So, what are you going to eat.

Well, for one thing, you can eat the items from the food tray that your kid doesn't like!

Second, there are tremendous chessed organizations that go around about 4 or 5 times a day delivering food packages all around the hospital. We were given breakfast sandwiches, a sandwich for lunch, a krembo, a danish, sweet drinks, sandwich for dinner, each time by a different organization. They offered us as much as we wanted.

This is great to get you by, but the truth is how many cheese and olive sandwiches can you eat? and the sandwich is not really filling. But they come and give it to you, and it is good enough to hold you over. I cannot say I felt like I ate a meal, but at least I wasn't starving. These organizations are really great and it is a big chessed they are doing.

Another option you have is bringing food from home. The hospital has a "parents room" (in the kids ward that is what they call it) at the end of the hall. The room has a couple of refrigerators so parents can store food in it. if you are willing to put food in there, and hope nobody else takes it, or touches it, gei gezunt as they say. There are also microwaves in the room, but they have signs on them saying they are not kosher. Maybe you can kasher them before you use them, but the sign says they are really not kosher... (there are plenty fo non-religious Jews and arabs who are int he hospital, so who knows what they zap in the microwave...).

Another option is buying food. You can go to the hospital cafetaria and buy packaged food, generally with a mehadrin hechsher. Or, you can go into the mall and buy food. There are a number of coffee shops and restaurants in the mall. The only mehadrin place I saw was a bakery where I bought pizza bagels and burekas one night. There is a burger place that has a sign claiming it is mehadrin, but the actual kashrut certificate did not say the word "mehadrin" anywhere on it.

And then there is shabbos. What do you do for shabbos? Even if you are the patient, and you have your meal delivered to your bed, and you eat Rabbanut, or you ordered mehadrin, it is a far cry from a shabbos meal. Also, it does not come with wine or challah.

So the first, basic option, is having food and waiting until someone goes around to the different wards and floors and makes kiddush in each department.

But you can do much better.

If you go down to the shul, either the beautiful Chagall shul with the famous Chagall windows, or the other shul, after davening the rabbi running the minyan will announce what tiem the meal is.

This rabbi is unaffiliated with the hospital (I asked him). he comes for shabbos, with his team of assistants (yeshiva boys), runs the minyan, and provides a shabbos meal for whoever wants one. He uses the "Bris Hall", and sets up 3 long tables on the mens side, and another 3 on the womens side. And he provides shabbos meals, for free, as chessed, to anyone who wants.

I tried asking him, and his assistants, some questions, but they were very reluctant to answer. They shy away from praise, and are simply doing chessed to help people who are in a difficult situation.

Allow me to describe what they do...

There are two types of people in the hospital:
  1. People who are stuck to their bed - patient who cannot get up, escort who cannot leave a bedside, etc.
  2. People who can get around easily.
People who can get around easily can come to the Bris Hall, sit down and have a full meal. It was amazing - they had the tables fully stocked - just like a meal at home. Everything was there, from drinks, to gefilte fish, a variety of salads, matzo ball soup, chicken, rice, kugels, potatoes, dessert. Everything you could want to eat in a shabbos meal. We sang shabbos zemiros, one or two people said divrei torah (one person told us his story how he became a baal teshuva after being declared clinically dead during an operation in Lebanon as part of an elite combat unit 17 years ago), and we ate until we could eat no more.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who have to eat in the hospital room, you, or someone you send, can take food from the Bris hall to your room. People come and take packages of food. Everything that is on the table is packaged up into packages and distributed. Sometimes they also go around and bring the food to you if they know there is someone who cannot come down to get food. But people came and took these big bags of packaged portions, with everything, and went to their rooms to eat.

Shabbos day, after davening there was a kiddush with cake and kugels and herring.

Later there was a lunch in the Briss Hall. same setup. Tables stocked with food. After the first course, they brought out the cholent, and side dishes, then dessert. divrei torah and singing, and we went back to our rooms completely stuffed.

After mincha is shaleshudas. Again, people take food to their rooms, and the tables are set. Salads, herring, drinks, kugel, etc.

Then is maariv and havdalah.

The people who run this are amazing. They smile the whole shabbos, greet people with pleasant words, shy away from any praise and try to minimize thanks and praise. The guys name is Rabbi Peretz, and he pretty much refused to answer any questions about his great work, such as how he does it, why he does it, etc. I asked if he does this every week, and he shrugged and said "according to my energy" with a smile. Others told em he does this every week - providing meals for something like 200-300 people every shabbos, 3 meals plus kiddush. All volunteer, on his own initiative.

Also, after the meals, they put out piles of all the religious newspapers so people could take things to read, whichever papers you prefer. You want Yated, you got it. Hamodia. Hamodia Enlgish. etc.

So, if you are going to have to be in the hospital for shabbos, you now know that you do not have to worry about food for shabbos.

I hope this guide helps you, in case you need it.

9 comments:

  1. Am Yirsrael is amazing

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing this, it is truly amazing how many selfless people there are who dedicate great time, money and efforts to this week after week.
    We had a similar wonderful experience in Kaplan hospital, Rehovot.
    At a time when you are worried, tired, stressed and confused, there are people who make shabbat a pleasant experience, and life some of the burden from your shoulders. It is true bikur cholim.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Any ideas of how we can make donations?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have no idea, considering they would not tell me who they were other than his last name. But I am going to try to find out. I have a lead....

    ReplyDelete
  5. One thing to note though is that you'll also have to eat in your room (or at least outside) if you want to eat with your spouse. Last time I was there it was seperate seating only.

    Not to detract from the chessed they are doing, just a helpfull note for people who might need to know.

    ReplyDelete
  6. that is true - seating is separate as noted in the post.
    But you are better off eating there if possible - it is hard to eat on the beds and not spill, you get more food if you eat in the hall (not limited to the size of the packages in the bag), and you get more of a shabbosdike atmosphere.
    But yes, to eat together you would have to take the food out.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Similar experience at Shaare Zedek, but not quite. On the plus side, all the food is mehadrin so no lists, or anything to sing up for, it just is.

    Before Shabbos there was one organization that brought some challos, some side dishes and of course arbis in case of an in-hopsital Shalom Zachor. For those well enough, there was a full Shabbos meal in the staff dining room deep in the bowels of the hopsital on the 3rd floor. You could eat there or bring to the room. There was grape juice and challah, soup, fish, chicken, rice, cholent, etc. and it wasn't bad. But there was nothing unifying the people. Eveyone made thier own kiddush, washed on thier own, ate on their own, bentched on their own and left. No Zemiros, no rebbes. In other words, the food was fine, but the avira wasn't so great.

    For non-patients, there's a cafeteria, a coffee stand and various vending machines.

    It was fine, but I think if I have to spend Shabbos in a hospital again, RL, I'll try Ein Kerem next time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have spent the last 3 Shabbosses there.
    Everything said here is correct.
    If I may add, there are also 2 rooms for sleeping, 1 for men and 1 for woman, with cots. I never actually saw it.

    Also, the vegetables from the hospital are all Badatz, they all come from Pe'er Li.

    Does anyone actually have a phone number to order the Badatz meals throughout the week. My wife has been there a couple of weeks now, and I just heard about this yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
  9. yoni - refuah sleimah and I hope yuour stay is short.
    When I was there, there was no need to call. when the lady came to deliver breakfast I asked her, and she said no need to call anybody, she'll arrange it. I thought it needs to be done for each day, so at dinner I told her again and she said no worries, it is ordered for as long as we would be there..

    ReplyDelete

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