Achiezer was the site of a successful and productive reception hosted in honor of Dr. Barbara Sampson, Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, which was attended by community rabbanim, medical professionals, members of chevra kadishas and community activists.
Said Dr. Sampson in her address to those present, "Coming here today and feeling the care and compassion that you all have toward your community's loved ones is important and inspiring for me to see firsthand."
Achiezer's core mission has always been to help those with medical and mental-health needs, promoting quality of life, ensuring that those in need can get the best care possible and sometimes, literally saving lives. However, there are unfortunately times when it is necessary to address the needs of those who have already passed on. While we cannot bring back the niftar or even begin to understand the pain of the grieving family, it is crucial to do whatever is possible ensure that the necessary procedures are carried out in a calm, dignified fashion, providing kavod for the niftar and a measure of comfort for the family.
To this end, Achiezer has endeavored to foster a working relationship with the Medical Examiner's Offices of both Nassau County and New York City. Several months ago, thanks to the efforts of Community-Police Liaison Mr. Alex Werczberger, Achiezer representatives met with Chief Medical Examiner of Nassau County Dr. Tamara Bloom, to facilitate open communication with community advocates.
Over the past few years, Achiezer has also dealt extensively with Chief Medical Examiner of New York City Dr. Barbara Sampson, and she expressed an interest in meeting with members of the community, which was the impetus for Tuesday's event.
Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, President of Achiezer, opened the meeting with warm words of introduction for Dr. Sampson. Since taking over as Chief Medical Examiner following the passing of Dr. Charles Hirsch, a friend to the Jewish community for many years, Dr. Sampson has been extremely helpful in so many different instances.
Following Rabbi Bender's introduction, all those present introduced themselves to Dr. Sampson. Attendees included Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, Chevrah Kadisha of Queens; Mr. Mark Gross, Rockaway/Nassau Hatzalah; Rabbi Uri Orlian, Cong. Shaaray Tefillah; Rabbi Dov Silver, Madraigos; Mr. Yanky Meyer, Misaskim; Mr. Aron Rosenberg, Achiezer Board Member; Mr. Meir Krengel, Achiezer Board Member; Mr. Michael Krengel, YIW Chevra Kadisha and Achiezer Board Member; Mr. Akiva Tepper, Chesed Shel Emes; Rabbi Boruch B. Bender, President, Achiezer; Mr. Shalom Jaroslawicz, Crisis Response, Achiezer; Mr. Michael Fragin, Achiezer Board Member; Rabbi Tzvi Flamm, Vaad HaRabonim; Rabbi Dov Bressler, HILI Congregation; Dr. Moshe Wercberger, on behalf of Agudath Israel of Long Island; Mr. Fred Schulman, The White Shul Chevra Kadisha.
A highlight of the program was an emotional tribute to Dr. Sampson by Far Rockaway residents Mr. Yoel and Mrs. Shani Hecht, in which they recounted the events surrounding the passing of their father several years ago during a three-day yom tov. At that time, Achiezer reached out to the Medical Examiner's office, which extended significant courtesies to the family. Said Mrs. Hecht, "The gratitude that we feel toward you and the entire Medical Examiner's Office for the way that you handled our father's passing is something for which we will be eternally grateful."
Following this presentation, Dr. Sampson formally introduced herself and spoke about various protocols that are important for the participants to be aware of. She also affirmed her goal of exhibiting sensitivity to the needs of all religious communities.
Other speakers included Rabbi Elchonon Zohn of the Chevrah Kadisha of Queens, who explained specific protocols and procedures, and Rabbi Yanky Meyer of Misaskim, who thanked the entire staff in the Medical Examiner's office for their commitment to meeting the needs of the Jewish community.
Shared Rabbi Bender, "While it is our fervent prayer and hope that such collaborations and protocols and meetings will never be needed, reality dictates otherwise, and it is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that each and every situation that we encounter is dealt with in a manner that ensures the utmost kavod hameis (sanctity of the deceased) possible."