Children and families that have medical crises have a tremendous need to take a break and feel a sense of normalcy," says Rabbi Simcha Scholar, founder and executive director of Chai Lifeline. With the opening of its new retreat, Chai Lifeline can now give these families the break they need.
The four-bedroom home in Mahwah pictured above has been donated to Chai Lifeline by Pamela and Craig Goldman.
The facility a four-bedroom home on the Ramapo River in Mahwah is named for its donors, Pamela and Craig Goldman, who owned the home for 10 years before moving to Mantoloking. While a contribution of this kind "has never been [made] before," says Scholar, the Goldmans are gratified to see their home used in this way.
"We’ve been blessed with health, good friends, and the resources to give back to the community," Craig Goldman told The Jewish Standard, adding that he wanted to donate the house to an organization that would allow the home to be in constant use.
The house, on close to five acres of land in a secluded wooded area, now serves as a quiet location where parents can go with their terminally ill children for an overnight stay or an extended weekend. Guests can take long walks on the property, use the swimming pool, go canoeing, or fish on the Ramapo River with equipment provided by the organization. Goldman pointed out that other activities such as skiing, hiking, and golf are also easily accessible.
Chai Lifeline, which offers many services to children with life-threatening illnesses, is best known for its summer program, Camp Simcha. The Goldmans were put in contact with the group by a friend, said Goldman, "and we were happy with the accomplishments of the organization. We’re proud to have given the home to Chai Lifeline," he added, noting that he and his wife chose it for its effectiveness in dealing with the social and familial issues surrounding pediatric illnesses.
Camp Simcha created to give children with cancer an opportunity to have fun in a Jewish summer camp setting began in 1986. The camp has enjoyed great success, according to Scholar, and "applicants come from all over the world to attend." He noted as well that Chai Lifeline now has branches in Europe and Israel.
According to the group’s Website (www.chailifeline.org/programs.php), Chai Lifeline also offers a program to help children deal with their sickness through artistic expression. Another program connects hospitalized children to their teachers and friends through video-conferencing. In addition, the group helps families get information about physicians and healthcare and runs a counseling center offering emotional support to parents and siblings of children with illness.
Scholar noted that when the Goldmans first proposed the donation of their home, the group immediately recognized the need for it.
"Such a tremendous donation is a huge step for Chai Lifeline; the Goldmans have been very generous," he said, pointing out that the family did not simply donate an empty home but refurnished the whole interior.
"It was a ‘complete contribution,’" he said.