Bikur Holim at the IJC

Last year's Vision meetings identified some key areas that members of IJC believed would make an essential contribution to the congregation's life and continued growth. One of those areas acquired the title Community Care. What do we do as a community when one of our members is in need, sick, in hospital, mourning a loss? We reach out to them! Bikur Holim, a Jewish tradition dating back to the middle ages and rooted in the Torah, encourages Jews to visit and bring assistance to the sick and those in need.

I was able to experience this first hand when providence brought two young children into our lives and we were suddenly a family. Members of Ohel Yachdav and IJC reached out to us in a multitude of ways, often leaving us overwhelmed by generosity and kindness. But soon we came to realise that this is what Jews do and our Jewish community was fulfilling this mitzvah as part of what makes us Jewish.

IJC also reaches out to those who have lost loved ones, family or close friends, overseas or here in Belgium. We remember them in services for a year and then continue to remember them on their Yahrzeit with an email invitation being sent out to light a Yahrzeit candle and to join the community in shul to say Kaddish. We also help to organise Shiva for those who have suffered a recent loss.

If you take a look at IJC's website you will find Community Care under the rubric Services. Click further on Bikur Holim for information on what to do if you know of someone in our community who is ill and would appreciate a visit or a phone call. Click on Yahrzeits if you want to add someone to IJC's Yahrzeit list or obtain a dedicated Yahrzeit candle to light at home. Click on Misheberachs if you want the community to pray for someone who is sick.

You will notice with each click that one very generous member of our community has stepped up to coordinate Community Care. Harriet Behrman is originally from South Africa and now lives with her husband in Ghent. With a background in psychology and a warm African spirit, she maintains the Yahrzeit list and sends out notifications, contacts members who are ill or bereaved with a word of personal and community concern, and tries to determine how the community can help.

Harriet is looking for someone in the Brussels area to help further extend our community's outreach within Brussels. Are you that person? Contact Harriet on