Children's Hospital in Boston: One of the scores of hospitals through which ROFEH is able to help thousands of patients

Joseph and Rae Gann ROFEH Residence building at 1730 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

The Bostoner Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Levi Y. Horowitz ztz"l Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Naftali Y. Horowitz, shlita

Rabbi Nachum Leib Sacks, Executive Director of ROFEH with Dr. Fred Mandell, from Children's Hospital Boston

Dr. Sumner Slavin, Plastic Surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and President of New England Chassidic Center

Dr. John Mullikan, Children's Hospital Boston, Plastic and Oral Surgery

Dr. Kenneth Anderson, Dana Farber, Oncology

Dr. Arnold Freedman, Dana Farber Boston, Hematology Oncology

This secTion conTains promoTional maTerial

Introduces ...


hen Rivky’s parents heard that there was nothing else the doctors could do to help their daughter, they thought the entire world was caving in upon them. Rivky was born with a serious congenital heart problem. Since her birth, Rivky had frequent episodes where she was deprived of oxygen and was hospitalized. Despite countless medical consultations and numerous surgeries, the doctors in Israel concluded that her situation was too severe for successful medical intervention. According to their prognosis, she likely had less than six months to live. In one last desperate attempt to save their daughter’s life, Rivky’s family chose to contact ROFEH International — a comprehensive medical referral and bikur cholim service in Boston, Massachusetts, that was founded by the late Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, ztz”l. ROFEH asked for Rivky’s medical records and connected the family to one of the top pediatric surgeons in Boston, who had agreed to look over her case. Decades of experience notwithstanding, the surgeon had never seen a case as severe as Rivky’s in his entire career. The doctor informed the family that there was little he could do to help her, but was willing to try. Upon receiving this new hope, Rivky and her family immediately flew to Boston, while ROFEH arranged hospitality, transportation, and care for Rivky and her family. After a grueling seven hours in the operating room, the doctor announced that the operation had been successful — Rivky’s life was saved! Thanks to ROFEH’s assistance and a lot of siyata d’Shamaya, Rivky can now look forward to a healthy and happy childhood. If her story were unique, that alone would be impressive. But in truth, thousands of families have received a new lease on life, due largely to the caring hands and support of ROFEH International. Founded as an outgrowth of the Bostoner Rebbe’s love for every Jew and his sincere desire to help all people, ROFEH International at its founding was at the forefront of medical referral organizations. In addition to providing medical referrals, the organization stands ready to meet other needs, as well. Boston is an international hub for travelers seeking medical attention, as the city is home to some of the top medical centers in America; Boston boasts some of the most renowned doctors in the world. Among the thousands of travelers from all walks of life needing medical care who come through Boston each year, many are Torah-observant Jews unfamiliar with the Boston area. ROFEH offers fully equipped apartments for patients and their families, provides home-cooked kosher meals during the duration of their stay, translation services, transportation, and more, for the several thousands of patients and their families who come through the doors of ROFEH each year. What distinguishes ROFEH from other chesed organizations, however, is not its impressive numbers, its devoted and knowledgeable staff, or its flawless service. ROFEH is unique in that a community exists within the organization. A community founded on the Bostoner Rebbe’s vision of chesed and compassion for every single Jew.

by Gavriel horan

A Community of Chesed
Chassidus comes from the word chesed, kindness — “That’s what chassidim do,” he would say. He once defined chesed for one of his closest chassidim: “Knowing what a person needs and taking care of it before they even know they need it.” The theme of the Rebbe’s life was chesed, and for him it was the greatest avodah. In 1984, the Rebbe fulfilled a lifelong dream to establish a Bostoner community in Israel by founding Boston Har Nof, a flourishing Chassidic community based upon the principles of the American-born Chassidus. Unlike those retirees who leave Boston during the cold winter months for the warmth of Eretz Yisrael, the Rebbe did just the opposite. Despite the blazing Middle Eastern summers, he only left for Israel after the academic year was over, in order to spend every precious moment with his beloved students.

The Hub of the Universe
The story of Boston Chassidus begins in Jerusalem. The great Lelover Rebbe, Rav Dovid Biderman, summoned his nephew, Rav Pinchas Dovid Horowitz, ztz”l . The young man was not only a descendant of many great chassidic rebbes — including the Baal Shem Tov himself — but was also an accomplished talmid chacham in his own right. “Your place is in America,”

the Lelover Rebbe told him. “You can build there.” The young Reb Pinchas Dovid was incredulous. While he would do anything for his uncle, going to America — the treifeh medineh — was too much to ask, and the Rebbe’s words were soon forgotten. Years later, while traveling to Europe on behalf of the old yishuv in Jerusalem, World War I broke out, and Reb Pinchas Dovid was unable to return to Eretz Yisrael. Eventually, the only exit visa he could obtain was to … America! After a short time in New York, he acquiesced to requests to come serve as a chassidic rebbe in Boston, in direct fulfillment of the Lelover Rebbe’s vision years before. The Chassidus flourished in Boston. Although Reb Pinchas Dovid relocated to New York at the end of his life, his second son, Reb Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, soon returned to Boston to lead the flock in 1944, thus becoming the first American-born chassidic rebbe. Boston, known to its denizens as the “Hub of the Universe,” is a hotspot for students and intellectuals, who flock to the area’s prestigious colleges and universities. In 1961, the Rebbe established the New England Chassidic Center in the Boston neighborhood of Brookline. There, he and his devoted Rebbetzin opened their home and their hearts to students and travelers, offering them warmth, support — and most importantly, food! Hundreds, if not thousands, of Jewish souls became frum through their tireless efforts. Under the Rebbe’s leadership, Kehillas Bais Pinchas became a shul focused on warmth and chesed. His chassidim had the best teacher of all. The Rebbe was the very first one to give “shalom aleichem” to a new face in shul, and of course, his chassidim followed suit. The Rebbe was quick to point out that

The Rebbe’s Medical Eye
Due to constant interaction with medical students and doctors, the Rebbe developed an intimate knowledge of Boston’s numerous medical centers. He was often asked to refer members of the growing community to doctors in the area. Over time, he became an expert in the field of medical referrals, and people from out of town or abroad began to call him for medical advice. In the early 1950s, the Chazon Ish sent an Israeli patient to Boston for open-heart surgery. At the time, the procedure was still new and Boston was one of few places where the procedure was performed. Following that experience, the Chazon Ish and others started sending patients to the Rebbe for referrals and accommodations. Together with the Rebbetzin, the

At a tour of the newly renovated ROFEH Building

The Rebbe didn’t merely do chesed with the patients and their families; he turned the members of his

kehillah into baalei chesed as well!
He created a community made
Virtually every US President since Harry Truman has expressed his appreciation to ROFEH in writing Rebbe, ztz"l in Har Nof in front of the shul

up of givers, where members feel responsible for one another

Rebbe housed dozens of visiting patients in his own home, providing for their physical and spiritual needs while offering them sound advice and emotional support. The Rebbe not only tried to help each and every person who walked through his door, but he also deeply felt their pain and struggle as if it were his own. He was once seen sobbing during a phone call with someone who had been diagnosed with a serious illness. When asked if the person was a close friend, the Rebbe responded that it was a total stranger. “A Jew is in trouble; a Jew is pain — I can’t not cry!” The Rebbe’s sonin-law Rabbi Yosef Frankel found him lying down in bed one day when they were supposed to be learning. He asked the Rebbe what was wrong. Noticing that the elderly Rebbe was evading his question, Rabbi Frankel asked him if he was fasting. The Rebbe reluctantly admitted that he was indeed fasting, and didn’t have energy to come downstairs. When pressed, the Rebbe explained that he had instructed someone to go ahead with a dangerous surgery that day. He was fasting to give them additional zchuyos. There were numerous cases where the Rebbe’s vast experience allowed him to detect a medical issue before the doctors had any idea something was wrong. He once instructed a young woman to get a blood test after experiencing unusual symptoms. The doctors reluctantly went ahead with it, even though they thought it was unnecessary. To their surprise it revealed a fast-growing form of cancer. Thanks to the Rebbe’s advice, they were able to detect it early enough to make a complete recovery possible. In another case, a four-year-old girl with a hole between the chambers of her heart once came for surgery to Boston Children’s Hospital with her mother. The two of them stayed in the Rebbe’s house during the process. Unfortunately the surgery was unsuccessful. Although her doctors wanted to operate again, the Rebbe contacted a specialist who informed them that she faced a 50-percent chance of mortality during the second operation. The Rebbe convinced the mother to wait until the doctors developed a better treatment. Nine years later, Boston Children’s Hospital contacted the girl again and invited her to come back for the operation: the hospital had updated its equipment. This time the operation was successful, and today the “little girl” has children and grandchildren!

The Birth of ROFEH International
As their bikur cholim services grew in popularity, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin soon realized that it was no longer possible to serve the needs of all the patients from their own home. Their humble house was often full of medical equipment, and since patients were coming and going at all hours, it was necessary for the Rebbetzin to prepare meals around the clock to feed everyone. For more than half a century, they spent almost every single Shabbos seudah with people suffering from serious medical conditions. It was in 1987 that the Rebbe acquired the Striar building, just a few doors down from his shul, which was then renovated into a lodging house in 2002 with the help of the Joseph and Rae Gann Family Foundation. This new building is able to host several different families at a time. Thus ROFEH International was born, an acronym for Reaching Out, Furnishing Emergency Health care — which is what ROFEH is all about. The Rebbe once remarked, “It’s the only place in the world where you have facilities to accommodate over a dozen families at one time. They’re not only given a bedroom, but a community support system, including the shul, the davening, the Shabbos and the singing. It gives them a new life!” The Steipler Gaon, ztz”l, once told the Rebbe that what he was doing to help families of the sick was even more important than what he was doing for the patients themselves. “The doctor is just a shaliach from Hashem. Whether or not he will be successful is completely out of our hands. But when you help the family, you are always successful!” After they finished speaking, the aged gadol insisted on walking the Rebbe out, despite great difficulty. When the Rebbe protested, the Steipler replied, “I have to accompany a person who does such chesed!” The Rebbe didn’t merely do chesed with the patients and their families; he turned the members of his kehillah into baalei chesed as well! He created a community made up of givers, where members feel responsible for one another. In Boston one can hear secular — even non-Jewish — doctors instructing their secretaries where to reach them “if the Rebbe calls.” One prominent non-Jewish pediatric eye surgeon often visits patients on ROFEH premises if post-surgery checkups fall out on Shabbos, since he knows they can’t travel. He once even stayed for over an hour trying to coax a fussy convalescent baby to eat.

in Israel after his father’s levayah, the Rebbe, shlita, received a call from services for homebound elderly people in the area, including transportation, someone staying at ROFEH and answered the call immediately. meals, holiday-related events, and home visits. “Call me and let me know whenever you hear any news,” he told them, neglecting to mention the time difference in Israel, even though the A Home Away From Home call might come in the middle of the night. He wanted to make himself “Our mission is to provide our patients and their families with a available to the patient — on their time!“Bostoner Chassidus’s philosophy home away from home in the most dignified and respectful manner is intimately connected to chesed,” the Rebbe, shlita, explains. “What possible while they are in Boston,” Rabbi Sacks said. “They don’t feel could be more spiritual than helping your fellow Jew — refuas hanefesh like they are in a foreign place, and that gives them the strength to go u’refuas haguf! The Rebbe, ztz”l, always felt that he was a shaliach of on during these trying times. It benefits the patients when they have HaKadosh Baruch Hu, who placed him in Boston for a very good reason their family’s support. At ROFEH, we are supplying the families with — in order to help his fellow Jews. He viewed his work at ROFEH as one of physical and emotional support to, in turn, help the patients.” his main missions in life. With the help and support of those who are here ROFEH works hand in hand with many renowned medical referral today, ROFEH will hopefully continue the good work that my father was able organizations, such as Rabbi Weitz’s Echo, Rabbi Shuki Berman’s Refuah to start and which he would want to continue.” Resource, and Rabbi Fuerer’s Ezrah Lamarpeh, to name a few. When Beyond helping patients find the right doctor for their needs, ROFEH a well-known Yerushalayim rabbi was faced with the trauma of a sick also aids patients in the process of booking appointments and minimizing infant, his Rebbe told him to go to Boston to see a specialist. Rabbi long wait time. Some doctors are so popular they can be booked as much Shuki Berman directed him to ROFEH. Within a few hours of speaking as ten months in advance. with the Rebbe, shlita, by phone, the father received a fax confirming their Before arriving, families are contacted by apartment in ROFEH. the chesed coordinator, to find out if they have “The apartment had everything we needed. Home away from home: ROFEH's guest facilities are comfortable and well appointed any dietary restrictions. From the moment It was like a five-star hotel — all totally free!” they arrive, they receive full home-cooked meals twice a day, which are often prepared by volunteers and Mrs. Minaker. They make between five and nine such meals every single day, on a completely volunteer basis. Arrangements are also made for interpreters to accompany nonfluent English speakers to the hospital to help communicate with doctors and hospital staff. One week, there were five ROFEH families staying at Boston Children’s Hospital for Shabbos. Instead of providing each family with their own individual cholent, everyone agreed to have a huge Crock-Pot in the room of one of the patients for everyone to share during the day seudah. It happened to be that the Crock-Pot was placed in the room of a two-year-old girl who was being observed after abdominal surgery. Although she had fully recovered, the doctor wouldn’t release her until she started eating normally, but she adamantly refused to eat a thing. That Shabbos she spent the entire night sleeping beside the boiling cholent pot with its tantalizing aroma filling the air. Shabbos morning, the first thing she said when she opened her eyes was, “Cholent!” She proceeded to eat almost half the pot of the steaming Shabbos delicacy — the first solid food she had eaten in weeks. Needless to say, everyone was happy to share their portions with her. As soon as the doctor heard the news, he promptly discharged her! Under the capable direction of the Rebbe, shlita, ROFEH is looking to expand its operations to include greater services for patients and families. ROFEH has recruited a talented new executive director, Rabbi Nachum Leib Sacks, expressly for this purpose. “Although we have relied on the good will of many notable members of the Boston community until this point, we now have the infrastructure to do so much more for our patients by organizing a steady team of community-wide volunteers,” Rabbi Sacks explained. In the near future, ROFEH plans to offer regular transportation to and from hospitals. Taxis can cost families more than $40 a day, and are the only way to get around the city efficiently. Additionally, ROFEH is currently designing a comprehensive program to provide opportunities for relaxation and entertainment for their clients’ families, who often need to spend long amounts of time away from their homes. The program will offer daily organized trips to parks, museums, and historical sites for patients and their families, in order to make the recovery period more pleasurable and stimulating. Future plans also include offering he said. Shortly after arriving, a volunteer came to the door with a complete meal for supper and breakfast the next day. “Our daughter was hospitalized for eight long months, but knowing that we had someone there to rely on whenever we needed something was a major, major help. They offered us both physical and emotional encouragement and support to make us feel as much at home as possible while we were away from home.” Fifteen-year-old Yaakov Steinberg of Brooklyn recently suffered kidney failure and desperately needed an immediate transplant. His mother was chosen as the most suitable donor. When Rabbi Binyamin Steinberg — a maggid shiur at the Young Israel of Queens Valley — came to Boston to consult with specialists, the hospital social worker suggested that they contact ROFEH. Several doctors present seconded that notion, speaking highly of the present Rebbe. ROFEH helped them take care of all their accommodations before and after the surgery. “They made it clear to us that they were willing to do anything to help us, so that we could be free to focus exclusively on our medical issue without worrying about anything else,” Rabbi Steinberg explained. “They weren’t looking for kavod, but rather to help us feel comfortable. We really feel like we now have a second community in Boston, and it really helped us get through our situation. I don’t know how we would have been able to do it without them! ROFEH is the epitome of what chesed is all about — people who just want to help another Yid in any way they can. I can’t see a higher form of chesed than what ROFEH practices.” ROFEH International continues to work tirelessly to support any patient in need. While many referrals are made by phone, their apartments are always full, and arrangements are made so that no one in need is turned away. Visitors to ROFEH are constantly amazed at the compassion and dedication of the staff at ROFEH and their willingness to help out in any way possible. ROFEH provides medical referrals, accommodations, food, translators, and transportation, etc., to their patients at no cost, and relies exclusively on the generosity of their local and international donors. Those staying in Boston know that they always have a place to turn to and an address to call home. n
ROFEH International: Address: 1710 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02445-2124 Telephone: 617-566-1900 E-mail: Website:

The Rebbe pays a bikur cholim visit to Yaakov Steinberg who turned to ROFEH when he needed an urgent kidney transplant

Carrying the Torch
Today, the Rebbe’s son, Rav Naftali Y. Horowitz, shlita, has taken over the Boston kehillah in Boston, following in his father’s footsteps. The Rebbe, shlita, is a renowned talmid chacham, while remaining down to earth and full of love and compassion for every Jew, very much like his father. Although only recently crowned Rebbe, he managed the day to day workings of ROFEH, together with Bais Pinchas and the New England Chassidic Center, for over three decades. The Rebbe, shlita, together with his Rebbetzin, work together as a team managing the operations of the organizations. The Rebbetzin spends hours in the office making sure that the needs of all, both clients and employees, are properly managed. The Rebbe is known in the community to be reachable by phone, and his chassidim and patients can reach him for emergencies at all times. While

— This article was made possible with the assistance of Rabbi Herschel Leiner, president of H. Leiner & Co., Corporate and Nonprofit Solutions H.LEINER & CO. FUNDRAISNG AND MARKETING CONSULTING HL@HLEINER.COM 845-362-8545