Rabbi Joseph Siev is looking for a few good men.
Every week on the Teaneckshul e-mail listserve, Siev sends out a plea to the community for volunteers. The rabbi at the CareOne rehab center on Teaneck Road has been writing and calling area congregations to recruit men to make Shabbat minyanim at the facility.
Through the summer CareOne had hosted Torat Chessed, the break-away mechitza minyan from the Jewish Center of Teaneck. But shortly after Simchat Torah the minyan left CareOne for a more permanent arrangement, which left Siev struggling to provide weekly Shabbat services for patients. The departing members of the fledgling shul said they would help out as much as they could, but could not stay.
"It was understood that was a temporary situation," Siev said. "They needed to find their own location."
Still, Torat Chessed, now meeting in a private home on Queen Anne Road, had provided about ‘0 men and 10 women at services each week, which Siev now has to make up. CareOne’s population is in "constant flux," he said. Although there are a few long-term residents, many stay there for only a few weeks. And while as many as 10 patients may attend services, as few as one may show up.
"Those who come are always very grateful that there’s a minyan they can go to," Siev said. "People are emotionally moved by the experience."
The rabbi has been in touch with the rabbis and leaders of nearby shuls in Teaneck. "The rabbis and communal leaders have been very supportive of our efforts," he said.
Cong. Arzei Darom, which is also on Queen Anne Road, has been sending volunteers to CareOne for the past few weeks. It also held its Chanukah party there, bringing out 75 of its members, said the congregation’s president, Shabsi Polinsky. A magician performed and the congregation’s children played dreidel with the center’s residents.
"We’re looking to do more joint programming with the residents," he said. The shul intends to hold a Purim program at CareOne, as well.
Thanks to surrounding shuls, CareOne has not missed a single minyan yet, Siev said. Between 15 and 30 people have shown up each week for Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon services. Sometimes as few as 11 have come, but there has so far always been a service.
"Thank God, we’ve been very lucky," he said. "People have been very nice."
Eventually, he said, he’d like to see a rotation system set up among the shuls to guarantee each week’s attendance.
Siev has also witnessed the development of a core group of five or six volunteers. His hope is that they and others will decide to daven regularly in CareOne’s synagogue, which he said had been the idea from the beginning.
"We hoped people in the area would see it as an alternative for davening on a regular basis," he said. "It’s a place where people can combine davening and bikkur cholim," visiting the sick. "I think that’s slowly happening."