Reaching out to others can be profound and meaningful

MC900355387I vividly remember that September night in 1987. We had left the hospital earlier that evening knowing that the end was near.  The hospital called a few hours later to let us know it had arrived.  We were stood at mom’s bedside holding vigil.  Each of us tried to say goodbye in our own way, a stroke of her hair, a whisper into her ear, holding her hand, a prayer in our hearts.  The truth is we were only trying to say goodbye; none of us could bear the thought of being without her. And then it was over.  Once the monitor was turned off, the silence was intense.  And although I was standing before my mom with my father, brother and sister, I felt profoundly alone.

But there was another presence in the room.  We had called our close family friend and Rabbi earlier that day, and he came to us in the middle of the night.  I honestly cannot remember what he said. But I do remember feeling as though I was standing at the edge of the abyss, staring into blackness.  His gentle touch somehow made me feel like I was not completely alone.  He could not take away the pain, no one could. But the echoes of the psalm reverberated in my mind; someone was beside me as I began to walk in that very dark valley. Rabbi’s presence helped me to begin the process of grieving her loss, then picking up the pieces and beginning to move forward.

My work as a hospital chaplain and as a rabbi has given me many opportunities to be with people in their time special time of grief, vulnerability or need.  It is a wonderful gift I am privileged to offer to others.  But it is not a gift limited only to rabbis.  We all have the potential to reach out to others in profound and meaningful ways. We offer ourselves to be present, to listen, to make a meal, to call a couple of weeks later just to check in, these are extraordinary ways that each of us can make a important impact on another’s life.  At the time when a person feels most isolated, we can reassure them that they are not alone.

About Rabbi David Levin 16 Articles
David Levin is a reform rabbi ordained from the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion (NY). David serves the community of Greater Philadelphia. He also devotes his time to special projects including Jewish Sacred Aging, teaching and free speech issues on the college campus. David worked with the Union for Reform Judaism in the Congregational Network as a Rabbinical Director serving the East Coast congregations. He also had the honor of working at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, PA. David Levin is a Fellow with Rabbis Without Borders, an interdenominational rabbinic group affiliated with CLAL. David Levin proudly claims to be one of Rabbi Louis Frishman’s (z”l) “Temple Kids”, from Temple Beth El in Spring Valley, NY. David attended the University of Chicago earning an AB in Economics. He went on to the New York University Graduate School of Business where he earned an MBA in Finance. Before becoming a rabbi, David enjoyed a career centered in banking and real estate finance, and he also worked in the family garment business.

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