Helping Jewish Hospital Patients Feel at Home on Shabbat


A 9-year-old from the Main Line collected tzedakah to purchase Shabbat tablecloths for hospital patients.

Mitzvah Hero: Mariam Jacobs, 9, a fourth-grader at Cynwyd Elementary School, has a brand new bag. But unlike the one made famous by James Brown, this one’s filled with donations — $71 from friends and family — to help Jewish patients at Lankenau Medical Center observe Shabbat. She gifted the bag of money to LMC’s Patient Experience Initiative.

What It’s All About: The youngster and her parents, Serena and Jonathan, are big believers in tzedakah, always collecting money for a cause, says Mariam, whose family, including older sister, Jordana, belong to Lower Merion Synagogue and Chabad of the Main Line.

“My mom helped me find someone at LMC to talk to and we had a meeting with Laurie Watson,” director of volunteer services, to discuss how Jewish patients could be served there. “When they asked me how I’d like to use the money, I said it should be for Shabbat tablecloths for the patients.”

Mariam hopes, she says, that the tablecloths will make the patients feel more at home, so they can say, “This reminds me of Shabbat at home. I may have the same [hospital] tray, but it’s different now because it’s Shabbat.”

Not a One-Time Thing: Even at her age, this enterprising youngster has a history of helping others: “I was a mother’s helper for a neighbor,” she says of another example of giving of her time and effort to help out.

Good for Her: This philanthropic effort taught Mariam “that I can do anything. And even a small little thing that I do is not just small — it turns out to be pretty big.”


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