In your interview with the author Deborah Feldman about her book, “Unorthodox” (“Unapologetically Unorthodox,” Feb. 17), Feldman seemingly could not find anything nice to say about the Satmar community save for the smell of cholent.
I am not Satmar but from my contact with them I find them to be the most generous and caring of Jews. During my father’s two-year battle with cancer, every single day during his 20-plus inpatient stays at Memorial Hospital, a volunteer from Satmar Bikkur Cholim would bring food for him, my mother and myself. On Friday there was always hot chicken soup and food, so that I could
spend Shabbos with him.
My father was not Satmar; he was a proud Zionist. But for Satmar Bikkur Cholim it makes no difference. All they need to know is that there is a Jew in the hospital and they will provide for him.
No envelope was ever included to even suggest a donation would be appreciated, nor did we receive a letter at home asking for one. The only thing they ask is that you call them upon discharge so that food is not wasted.
Besides bringing food to patients’ rooms, Satmar also stocks Bikkur Cholim rooms in all major Manhattan hospitals, available for all Jewish patients and their families.
What is most amazing about Satmar Bikkur Cholim is that this is a community- wide organization; the volunteers are women with large families who nevertheless find the time on a weekly basis to cook, bake and deliver the food to patients’ rooms. Similarly the funding comes primarily from the community, a largely poor one, but one that is unbelievably charitable.
Upon my father’s passing and in appreciation of how Satmar took care of my family, I now volunteer every Shabbos with Satmar at Beth Israel Hospital.
Not a week goes by when I am not amazed by the Satmar generosity and how they positively impact patients and their families.
Perhaps with time living in the wider world Feldman will be able to recognize that the charitable values found in Satmar are most unique and worth emulating.