In a way, the Ice Bucket Challenge that took place last Sunday left me as cold as those who had the freezing water thrown at them. So much so, that I made the conscious decision not to be included in any of the publicity pictures that were taken.
For the record, I whole heartedly endorse any gimmickry that will advance the projects of doctors and scientists hoping to discover a cure for diseases, dreaded or not, that threaten and snuff out the lives of countless Americans. I don’t believe that I would be overstating it if I were to say that there is nary a Tiferet congregant unmoved by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, in that it is in the process of taking the life of our own Dr. Marty Weinberg.
Yet, as well meaning as those who showed up on Sunday morning were, I can’t help but think of a different challenge that they ought to be taking. ALS is an unusually cruel disease. It leaves the brain fully intact. ALS victims retain total acuity until the very end. Not only are ALS victims fully aware of what’s happening in society as well as in the world around them, but ALS victims are also fully aware of what’s happening to their own bodies. Other than watching television, there is little, if anything that a victim of that dreaded disease can do to pass the time. Newspapers or magazines or books are out of the question, unless someone holds up the pages for the individual to read. There is only so much radio or television that ALS victims can listen to or watch. The sad reality is that ALS victims spend the day bored out of their minds. What many, if not most ALS victims yearn for is human interaction. Aside from any Ice Bucket Challenge, the real challenge that confronts us at Tiferet is making the time for a visit with Marty. Obviously banal questions such as “how are you” or “what’s been happening” or any question for that matter is out of the question. Visits with Marty require monologues. Yet, monologues are doable provided there is a modicum of preparation. Tell Marty about what took place at a recent board meeting, or describe what happened at services or fill Marty in on a recent trip or talk about a movie you’ve seen or a book that you read.
Marty is never totally alone. During the day, there is an extremely capable health care professional present that happens to be very intelligent. After hours, Elandra is guaranteed to be there. Even if some of the conversation is with the health care professional or with Elandra, Marty will still feel very much part of it. Please call, before visiting. Unlike most others, something as seemingly simple as getting Marty out of bed and into his chair is quite an ordeal.
Why not make that visit. The mitzvah you will have performed is beyond measure. And after you do so, feel free to write that check to ALS to do your share in helping find a cure. Ice Bucket Challenges chill you to the bone. A visit to Marty from time to time on the other hand, is so very heartwarming.