The European Chesed Centre, under the auspices of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, opened another branch for medical equipment lending. The branch was inaugurated in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and it is one of 50 branches currently being established by the RCE to benefit Jewish communities in Europe. The project was developed by the Deputy Director General of the RCE, Rabbi Yosef Bainhaker.
The Sofia branch will be managed by the Chief Rabbi Yosef Salomon, head shaliach of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Bulgaria. The Centre is located next to the Chabad House, and is part of the Beit Hayedidut (Friendship House) that was established in recognition of the friendship between the Jews and the Bulgarian people who protected Jews during World War II and prevented the Nazis from taking them to extermination camps.
The Centre organizes many chesed projects. In addition to the medical lending centre, where anyone in need can borrow an array of medical equipment, Beit Hayedidut provides Shabbat packages and clothing for needy families, along with heaters and blankets in winter, school bags for children and social services. A branch of the Shifra and Puah organization will also be opened and will provide meals for families after birth, cribs and equipment for mother and baby.
The European Chesed Centre inauguration ceremony was attended by many local Jews; the Israeli Ambassador to Bulgaria, Yoram Elron; representatives of the local municipality; dignitaries and local business executives who support Beit Hayedidut.
Chairman of the RCE, Rabbi Menachem Margolin and Director General of the RCE Rabbi Arie Goldberg were unable to attend the event due to the restrictions following the outbreak of the omicron virus in Europe. They conveyed their best wishes to Rabbi Salomon and noted his remarkable dedication to the Jewish community in Bulgaria and the hard work he has invested in its development.
Even before the local branch of the European Chesed Centre was officially opened, Rabbi Salomon and the shaliach Rabbi Shlomo Deitsch used the medical equipment to save lives. An elderly couple contracted Covid-19 and were in respiratory distress. They needed oxygen and respiration devices, which Rabbi Deitsch provided, and which helped them get through the serious illness. After a significant improvement in their condition, they were transferred to Israel for further treatment.
Rabbi Yosef Salomon shared this story at the inaugural event, and thanked the RCE for the incredible initiative, noting that the European Chesed Centre generates positive energy in the community. “Every resident of Sofia, Bulgaria, knows that if he needs costly medical equipment he can come and borrow it from the Centre,” he said.
The European Chesed Centre is planning to open 50 medical equipment lending centers in 50 European cities. The project was conjured when the pandemic broke out, in an effort to help care for European Jews in need of medical equipment. Each branch carries a range of medical equipment and devices needed by people of every age, from birth to the elderly.