PHOTOS: After many years, Bikur Cholim of Philadelphia cuts ribbon to Kosher food pantry at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

By Esther Rubin. It took Bikur Cholim of Philadelphia twenty years of perseverance, lobbying and cajoling, but now, finally, cholim from all over the world will be able to have a user-friendly experience as they access one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world.

Until last week, being a frum patient at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) was not such a user-friendly experience. There was no access to kosher food nor other frum amenities for caregivers. This made it difficult for religious patients and their families.

“Already twenty years ago, we realized how vitally important a kosher pantry would be for frum patients,” said Mrs. Malkie Schwartz, co-head of Bikkur Cholim of Philadelphia. “We started lobbying the leadership of the hospital back then, but, due to layers of bureaucratic red tape, we were met with all kinds of obstacles. “This past Thursday, however, we finally celebrated the ribbon cutting on an absolutely state-of-the-art, new Bikkur Cholim room that offers so many amenities for the frum patient. HUP can now be an appealing option for any frum patient from anywhere in the world who desires to access the amazing network of HUP’s world renowned specialists.”

Mrs. Schwartz together with co-head of Bikkur Cholim of Philadelphia, Mrs. Susie Wohlgelernter, and their group of volunteers have been serving cholim in CHOP, Lankenau and HUP for decades.

The new Bikkur Cholim room contains a supply of nutritious meals, snacks and even cholov Yisroel ice cream, something that is very hard to come by in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Mindy Oppenheimer was instrumental in cutting through the red tape and lobbying the hospital.

Many frum doctors in HUP also helped lobby the hospital. Notable among those involved in making the pantry a reality, were HUP President Regina Cunningham and Pastor Jim Browning, who was willing to give up his own office so that Jewish patients would have access to kosher food.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rebbetzin Choni Levene, rebbetzin emeritus of the Lower Merion Synagogue, Philadelphia’s largest Orthodox shul, expressed the gratitude of the Jewish community.

“Bikkur Choim was found to extend kindness and consideration and to fulfill the needs of patients and their families,” she said. “For over twenty years, under the caring, dedicated leadership of Malkie Schwartz and Susie Wohlgelernter, volunteers all over the Philadelphia area have been bringing food, support, solace and comfort to the sick and those who love them. We thank the administration of HUP, and in particular Mindy Oppenheimer, Simcha Zevitt, Carolyn Jackson, Chaplain Jim (Browning) and Paula Yudenfriend, for allowing and facilitating our ability to provide for the special and particular needs of your Jewish patients.”

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  1. Mazel Tov! so many families will enjoy this! I’ve been to CHOP many times and always enjoyed food from Chai LIfelines amazing food pantry… why does the article imply there was nothing there for our community??? please clarify

  2. Sincerest Thanks to Mrs. Wohlgelernter and Mrs. Schwartz for all they do for Bikur Cholim of Philadelphia. These nashim tziskaniyos eat, sleep and breathe Bikur Cholim and will stop at nothing to provide whatever is needed for the patient and family members. They are holding up this world with their chessed!
    May Hakadosh Baruch Hu repay Mrs. Wohlgelernter and Mrs. Schwartz and all the Bikur Cholim volunteers with much mazal, brocha, good health and the ability to continue doing chessed!

  3. To clarify for comment number1, Hup hospital and chop are 2 different hospitals. You can not use the hospitality room in chop if you are a patient or a family member of a patient in HUP. This is a great accomplishment for frum patients in HUp. Thank you!

  4. Fam Member:
    Chai Lifeline services CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).
    This new pantry services HUP (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania), which is not specialized to children.

  5. And it’s already being utilized !! Brought over food to a patient of hup today that was able to use the room today .
    So Many thanks for this and also all that they do at chop .
    May Hashem bench this amazing crew with tremendous amount of Hazlacha!!
    Yosef c

  6. Bikur Cholim of Philadelphia is an incredible organization! When I was in CHOP with my son, they sent meals made by some of the n’shei chayil of Philadelphia, arranged for local high school girls to come visit, and provided a comfortable apartment for my husband to sleep in near the hospital for Shabbos. How wonderful that they were able to expand their services to HUP as well. Wishing them much continued Hatzlacha!

  7. When my husband was in the hosp (U of P), Bikur Cholim of Phila.
    arranged Shabbos meals for us. We are so happy there is a kosher
    Bikur Cholim room now. May we all be well, but when needed, it is
    wonderful how we all take care of one another. Mazel Tov on an
    important accomplishment. EB

  8. I personally am a benificiary of Mrs. Suzi Wohlgelernter’s amazing chesed which she does without any fanfare! May her and her husband Ezra [who is a Baal Chesed par excelllence in his own right] merit to continue their holy work and see nachas from their wonderful family till 120.

  9. Amazing accomplishment of Bikur Cholim of Philadelphia! Malkie Schwartz was an amazing help when we were in Chop. Continued Hatzlacha in your endeavors and a Refuah Sheleima to all “your” patients!!

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