Kew Gardens Hills is privileged to have raised Mordechai Serle. The onslaught of this past year’s pande

By Binyamin Ungar and QJL Staff


mic brought the graduate of Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe and Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah-Grodno front and center as a co-founder of Convalescent Plasma Initiative (CPI). There, he successfully shared methods to fight and control the virus under the guidance of leading medical professionals and rabbinic authorities.

In his formative years, Mordechai regularly attended Congregation Ahavas Yisroel and the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, where the need for volunteerism and stepping up for the klal was fomented. CPI’s efforts transcended all dreams and ricocheted throughout the nation and well beyond. Notably, Agudath Israel of America took on the organization’s mission and eventually the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed sought advice and collaborated with CPI.

Bikur Cholim of Cleveland saw the results and the m’siras nefesh of the volunteer founders and chose to recognize their heroism, amongst other distinguished healthcare professionals, in grandeur at a drive-in dinner event like no other.

Pushing limits and breaking barriers is nothing new to Bikur Cholim of Cleveland. Representing patients from all over the world who come to receive expert care in Cleveland, they advocate, support, and care for every single Jewish patient’s medical needs.

Bikur Cholim literally holds the hands of those suffering from life-threatening illnesses, helping them navigate through the dark tunnels of illness with tireless devotion.

Due to COVID restrictions, the annual gala was planned as an outdoor drive-through event. But when the forecast called for snow showers, participants were skeptical. Could it work? But thanks to the warm support of the Cleveland Jewish Community and beyond, the celebration sold out, and BCC exceeded their fundraising goal, proving that they are indeed…unstoppable.

More than 300 pulled into the enormous parking lots, their wipers’ rhythm pushing away the snow, as each participant received delicious boxed meals. Snow continued to fall as Dr. Adam Heyada, representing the event sponsor, Beachwood Medical Center, began the evening by noting how throughout his years in Beachwood, Bikur Cholim was constantly focused on the individual patient and his family.

As snowflakes danced in the air, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Joseph, director of BCC, presented the Physician of the Year Award to Dr. Daniel Simon, Chief Clinical and Scientific Officer, UH Cleveland Medical Center.

“When the moment arrives, the man will show up,” said Dr. Simon’s colleagues, describing him as a true leader who rose to the occasion.

As the program continued, Dr. Moshe Ornstein, a rising young oncologist in the Cleveland Clinic, was awarded the Young Leadership Award. He is well known throughout the medical community for his expertise – yet he is even better known by the Jewish community for his commitment to Torah and chinuch.

Mordechai Serle, Chaim Lebovics, and Aryeh Leib Freedman – residents of New York and Baltimore respectively – were honored for their efforts in spearheading the COVID Plasma Initiative. After realizing that COVID convalescent plasma treatment across the country was indeed a successful reality, they planned and led the effort in Cleveland. Working alongside BCC, these three men successfully coordinated the testing of Cleveland residents for COVID-19 antibodies. This honor recognized their efforts, not only for Cleveland, but on behalf of COVID patients across the country.

At the gala, Bikur Cholim of Cleveland dedicated the Barbara Gross a”h Volunteer Program, paying tribute to an amazing woman who dedicated her life to the Jewish patients of Cleveland.

The crowd gave a warm welcome to Elimelech Fried, a native of Far Rockaway, who experienced firsthand the care and concern of Bikur Cholim of Cleveland last year. In need of a liver transplant, he stayed in Cleveland together with his brother, his liver donor, for several months during his successful transplant and recovery. The crowd burst out with honking and flashing, as he publicly thanked the Cleveland community for all their support during those months!