PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers women’s tennis team has engaged in a unique community service program with the New Brunswick chapter of the Challah Foundation, which serves Challah bread to patients at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and St. Peter’s University Hospital.
Challah bread is known as the “bread of life” and has Jewish origins. Dr. Michael Nissenblatt, a highly regarded oncologist with a medical practice in New Brunswick, founded the organization. According to Dr. Nissenblatt, cancer patients not only need to be treated physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The delivery of the Challah Bread is a part of the holistic treatment that Dr. Nissenblatt provides for his patients. The bread, which is delivered by surviving cancer patients of Dr. Nissenblatt each Friday, contains spices for emotional healing.
Recently, the Challah Foundation has grown from a small organization to one that is fully self-sufficient and supported entirely through donations.
During the fall season, members of the Scarlet Knights took turns making visits to the hospitals. Included in that group was senior Helen Magomedova (Brooklyn, NY), Lauren Edelschein (Medford Lakes, NJ) and Jill Markowitz (Forest Hills, NY).
“It was very obvious to me that the presence of a bright, young college athlete made the day much bright for the patients,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “The Challah Foundation is an organization that provides a wonderful service to cancer patients and their families. It is part of the medical treatment provided by Dr. Nissenblatt and it is very rewarding to be a part of something that is so important.”
Bucca, who was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Saint Peter’s University Hospital earlier this year, recently spoke at the annual USTA Convention in New York City during the US Open about the importance of community outreach to promote the game of tennis, specifically on college campuses.
“It is important to give back to the community,” Bucca said. “My father always taught me that it is better to give than to receive. By our players giving a little of their time to patients who are struggling, it brought just as much joy to our players as it did to the patients.”
“It was an amazing experience,” said Magomedova. “When you do something like this, it puts everything into perspective. All of the girls on the team were willing and eager to take part is this. It makes you feel good knowing you helped make someone’s day a little happier.”
The Scarlet Knights wrapped up their fall season at the ITA Regional in Philadelphia, PA, last month. Rutgers’ season was highlighted by its strong showing at the USTA Invitational and Dartmouth Invitational. It will begin the spring campaign On Saturday, Feb. 5, against at Providence.