On June 12 at 5:00 pm, United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan, and Darien (UJF) will honor the memory of Aaron Zvi Sichel with the dedication of a “special place” at Stamford Hospital.
“Aaron’s Place” will be a dedicated room, donated by Stamford Hospital, where community members, seeking a place to grab a kosher snack, light candles or have a Shabbat meal, can seek refuge while in the hospital caring for a loved one.
Aaron, of blessed memory, was the nephew of long-time Stamford residents, Ronnie and Steve Sichel. In addition to the donation of the room, Stamford Hospital is taking the extra step of dedicating one elevator in each elevator bank to be a “shabbat elevator” meaning that on the Sabbath, it will stop at each floor without anyone having to press a button.
“UJF will be spearheading these efforts,” said UJF’s CEO Diane Sloyer. “We are grateful to the leadership of Stamford Hospital for donating a dedicated space to provide respite and comfort to the Jewish community, and for a lead gift from Aaron’s family to make this space a reality. Together with Ronnie Sichel, UJF will be identifying volunteers to maintain the room and shop to stock and prepare the room for Shabbat. Fundraising efforts will be ongoing to maintain this room for all in need."
This heartfelt tribute is a testament to Aaron’s profound impact on those around him and his unwavering commitment to his faith, community, and compassion. Aaron’s journey began in March 2014 when he received the devastating news of a late-stage bladder cancer diagnosis at the young age of 33. A resident of Baltimore, he was an active and beloved member of the Jewish community known for his dedication to hosting Shabbat meals and volunteering with a Jewish roadside assistance organization. During his intensive medical treatment in Maryland and New York, Aaron discovered a newfound passion—exploring the private rooms known as “bikur cholim” (literally “visiting the sick”) rooms, created for patients whose Jewish observance was difficult to maintain within the hospital environment.
These rooms provided a haven for Jewish patients, offering kosher meals, Shabbat candles, prayer books, and a sense of community. Aaron found great joy in rummaging through the rooms’ treasures, sampling kosher snacks, and engaging in heartfelt conversations with fellow patients and their families. What resonated with everyone who knew Aaron was his exceptional kindness, generosity, and selflessness. He constantly sought ways to make a positive impact on others’ lives and always prioritized the well-being of his friends. Aaron fought his battle with cancer for eleven months, never giving up on the hope of recovery. In his final hours, surrounded by loved ones, they sang his favorite Billy Joel song, offering solace and love.
“United Jewish Federation’s decision to name ‘Aaron’s Place’ at Stamford Hospital serves as a beautiful tribute to our nephew, who was a remarkable individual,” said Ronnie Sichel.
“It stands as a testament to the enduring impact of his menschlichkeit (humanity) and his unwavering commitment to helping others. Aaron’s memory will forever be etched in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to know him, and through ‘Aaron’s Place’, his spirit will continue to inspire and bring comfort to Jewish patients and their families in our communities for years to come.”
This article appears in the June edition of The New Jewish Voice. To receive The New Jewish Voice newspaper delivered free to your home, sign-up today at www.ujf.org.