Once a quarter JCCWRP convenes representatives of the JUF/Jewish Federation agencies in West Rogers Park to share ideas for cooperation and collaboration. Our most recent meeting took place at Mount Sinai Health Center at 2901 W. Touhy.
How many of us take the time to think about what goes on inside?
For 40 years this Sinai outpost has served both the disadvantaged in our community and people from other countries struggling to gain a foothold in America. Waves of immigrants from the USSR and 50-plus countries of distress have gone and continue to go there for health screenings required by the State of Illinois and, subsequently, for ongoing healthcare services. In September alone, 427 individuals were served there. With 25 languages spoken by the staff and the capability to access other translators by telephone, the Center is a frenetic hub of healthcare service to immigrants and refugees from around the world as well as members of the Jewish and general community.
At a time when the label “refugee” is more often uttered as a pejorative than as a term of compassion and respect, the Sinai Center, its medical director Dr Gary Kaufman, and its staff stand out as role models of the best in the American -- and the Jewish -- way.
Those of us lucky enough to have achieved some modicum of success all owe it to someone who came before us. In my case it was my father, Michael Rieger, who arrived here in Chicago in 1925 as an illegal immigrant, not achieving legal status until 1935. His family remained behind and perished in Auschwitz in 1944. They were not as lucky as my mother’s family who arrived earlier in the 20th century.
The JUF/Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has played a key role in the building and sustenance of WRP. The Mount Sinai Touhy Health Center is probably the least visible example of that mission except to the thousands who have been served there and will always carry with them the knowledge that they landed in a community that cares.
Our mission is to build on those good works to further strengthen WRP for generations to come.
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