"Last year, on the day before Rosh Hashanah, our 42-year-old healthy son, Shalom Miller, suffered from a heart attack while giving a shiur," explained Michael Miller alongside his wife, Grace. Shalom was rushed to Shaarei Tzedek hospital, where he received a phenomenal level of care.
But how could the Millers – Shalom's parents, wife, and six children – stay by his side, especially during the holiday?
A longtime Yad Sarah volunteer and friend of the Miller family, Charna Duchanov, offered to arrange a room at the Yad Sarah Hospitality Center, a space near Shaarei Tzedek hospital which provides accommodations for caregiving family members.
"The next afternoon, she called to share that everything was taken care of, and we would be in room 108," said Grace Miller.
The family had never been to the Hospitality Center but had heard great things from friends who had stayed there. "Our friends shared that the Hospitality Center was clean and comfortable, but it was much more than that. The facility is beautifully furnished with comfortable beds and a seating area, as well as hot water and cakes available to guests, all of whom have their own private rooms."
As difficult as the situation was for the Miller family, Yad Sarah's Hospitality Center allowed them to be together and have some semblance of a Rosh Hashanah experience.
The family later learned that they were able to get a room last minute because Philip Bendheim, a Yad Sarah board member, relinquished the room he was renting to be near his hospitalized mother after hearing the story of Shalom Miller and his family. The Millers met with the Bendheim family and thanked them for their kindness. "They were extremely supportive," said Michael Miller. "Recognizing the gravity of our situation, they checked in on us every few hours."
Grace and Michael Miller were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital every day. "Had we not been able to stay at Yad Sarah's Hospitality Center, we would have sat in chairs in the ICU for the two days of Rosh Hashanah," said the Millers, who were not in an emotional or physical state to be spending all day and night in the hospital waiting room.
In addition to being at the hospital with their son, the Millers had to arrange for care and food for their six grandchildren – ranging in age from six to 18 – who were emotionally devastated. They also were keeping an eye on their daughter-in-law, who was pregnant with her seventh child. The fact that there was a place to lie down and get some rest helped the Miller family keep going.
A week after the heart attack, Shalom Miller passed away. "Nothing can bring Shalom – a son, husband, brother, and father to now seven children – back to us," said the Millers. Fortunately, the family has amazing memories of all Shalom accomplished in his shortened life. "His memory is already a huge blessing in our lives and guides us in everything we do," Michael Miller said.
Everyone who knew them - and even some strangers – did everything they could to relieve some of the stress and burden placed on the Miller family. In fact, on the first day after Shalom's passing, Philip came to pay a Shiva call and show his support amidst their devastating loss.
The Miller family explained: "Knowing there are people like Philip Bendheim and Charna Duchanov behind the scenes at Yad Sarah goes a long way to ease the pain and suffering, and help families have a Shabbat and Yom Tov experience in dignity and comfort."
This support doesn't change the harsh reality of the situation, but the knowledge that there are good people who understood their needs and what they were going through made a big difference.
"We are deeply indebted to Yad Sarah," Grace and Michael Miller expressed.
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