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Finding Connection in the Emergency Room

Updated: Oct 18

The following is a reflection from Joey Barr, a volunteer for JewBer!

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When my friend Simon Luxemburg started JewBer with his Hornstein classmates Ana Sazonov and Myla Green, I was pretty excited. The beginning of the COVID pandemic had taken so much away from us, this seemed like a fantastic way to give back to the community, specifically those working the hardest on the front lines in hospitals and in other healthcare roles. For me, there was just one problem: I was home in Chicago with my family.


Now, almost 6 months later being back in Boston has given me the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to this initiative, and witness the immense difference that it’s making in the lives of the heroes of this pandemic. It’s also allowed me to feel more connected with other members of the community, Jewish or not. Just this past Friday, one of my meal deliveries was to a Physicians Assistant (PA) working in the emergency room at Tufts Medical Center. Initially, I was kind of annoyed about it. A hospital was really the last place I wanted to be! Parking on the street of the hospital is never fun. But once I finally went in to deliver the meal, I was happily surprised when the number I texted was a 773 area code: AKA Chicago. Being a Chicagoan myself out on the East Coast, the sight of a familiar area code is always exciting. Once the PA and I connected, it turned out he grew up one town over from me, and his parents now live practically next door to mine! The conversation was cut short, as he obviously had important work to attend to. But I left Tufts Medical Center feeling energized about having made a connection with a fellow community member, and enthused that I was able to provide him a Shabbat meal from JewBer. We wished one another a shana tova and g’mar chatimah tova, and were on our respective ways.


It’s moments like these that make JewBer so special. You never know who else is in the community with whom you have a connection. The pandemic is touching each of us in ways big and small. In a time that can seem so scary, and make the world feel so unknown, JewBer brings it right back down to you, and shows you that things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. I feel so lucky to get to volunteer with JewBer and know that in some way I’m making a difference for the community.

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