Tools for Elul | Ruth Yahr: Repair the World

I have long been fascinated by the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Every year, I take an Osher class involving visits to churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples of congregations of many different religions. Every worship site that we have visited has a similar concept as part of its mission.

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My contribution to Tikkun Olam has been the volunteer work that I have done for the last 31 years at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Some volunteer days have been more memorable than others. One memory that always comes to mind is the hour or so in which I held a child who was born with a brain malformation. She was only hours old and was screaming and crying nonstop. Nothing could comfort her. I didn't know at the time, and I don't know now if she had hours, days or weeks to live, but I was determined that during the time in which I held her, she would have some sense of loving, caring touch. I know from watching different volunteers and staff that she got that from many other people as well.

I also remember the day I spent with a preschooler who was injured in a horrific accident in our city. It was the first day that no one from her family was with her because they were attending the funeral of her sibling who died in the accident. After the funeral, her father came to see her, and I remember the tearful reunion.

I have volunteered in many areas of the hospital over the years. Now, I only go to the post-anesthesia care unit, the recovery room. I rock, pat, hold and feed babies and anyone who has had a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. Sometimes, I get warm blankets, and occasionally those blankets are for the family members as well as for the patients.

This work adds special meaning to my life and I hope that I am doing my part in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

-Ruth Yahr, Congregant

Rodef Shalom