It was never something she planned to do. But many years ago, when Frumie Horowitz of Boro Park went to visit the sick child of her husband’s chavrusa, she couldn’t help but become involved in the family’s welfare. Along with providing them with emotional and physical support by way of meals and care packages, Frumie also became the family’s medical advocate. Not long after, a neighbor heard of what she was doing and asked her to help another family in a similar situation.
“One thing led to another,” she says, and so her organization, Bein Ish Ubein Uchiv, was born. Frumie’s out-of-town upbringing in Monsey has given her a warm, approachable sensibility that hasn’t diminished, even after years of living in the big city. “I always said I would never live in Brooklyn,” she confides with a chuckle. “Now I never say never.” Despite her thwarted predictions, Frumie is grateful to live in Boro Park because it gives her much easier access to the many hospitals she visits each day throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.Bein Ish Ubein Uchiv, she says, “is a ‘family’ organization.” And that’s the way Frumie prefers it.
Ever humble—it took some quick talking to get her to agree to an interview—Frumie attributes her ability to spearhead an organization like this to her parents, who were also constantly involved in bikur cholim projects, as well as both of her grandmothers. “It’s in my genes,” she jokes. Frumie spends her days running to make visits at as many as five different hospitals, while planning special events and Shabbatonim and, of course, raising her six children (two of whom are married). Her time is a precious commodity, but her family is nothing but supportive of what she does. (One of Frumie’s daughters, in fact, helps provide Shabbos care packages for needy people in Lakewood.) Being resentful of the organization’s monopoly on their mother wouldn’t occur to them, says Frumie, because “they grew up with this.”
She does, however, strive to put her children first. Just recently, she cancelled a day of visits so she could take her daughter on an overnight. “We [mothers] do our best,” she says, “but we don’t do it perfectly.” Her motivation, she says, is a desire to help others. “Everyone has challenges in life and a lot of times we feel voids. I believe that the only way to keep yourself happy is to make others happy, [and] to give.” One mother Frumie worked with fell into a depression after losing a child.
After getting her kids off to school, she would crawl back into bed until the children came home. After a year, Frumie called her. “Okay, enough of this,” she told the mother. “It’s time to help yourself.” After some initial resistance, this mother finally agreed to oversee the distribution of Purim costumes to local children. The experience changed her life. Frumie recalls, “She said, ‘Frumie, the excitement of the kids and the mothers…I am a new person.’” Today, this woman is still heavily involved in the organization. “The excitement of doing and giving for others,” she says, “that was her cure.” That same excitement is what keeps Frumie going, even when she works with people who are less than appreciative. But “I get some sort of feeling during the day, every day, that I should have been there,” she says. “I see it clearly that this was siyata dishmaya.” Once, for example, she went to visit a woman at the hospital who happened to be in the middle of getting an MRI when Frumie arrived.
Anticipating the woman’s disappointment at missing her, Frumie wrote the woman a note and searched through her pocketbook for something to leave as a gift. All she had were three Schmerling chocolate bars, which she placed on the woman’s pillow, along with the note. Later, she got a phone call from the woman. “You have no idea what you did for me. I was having a terrible day. I was in so much pain I said, ‘Hashem, I’m done. I’ve done enough.
Please take me.’ I had a good cry, which made me feel a little better, but then I had this craving for chocolate. I needed to have chocolate. So when I returned to my room and saw what you’d left me, it was like a message from Hashem that He was taking care of me. I ate that chocolate and I enjoyed it so much. I was so happy.” Over her many years of chesed, she’s accumulated thousands of stories like this. But the underlying message is the same: This is a woman who finds her joy in helping others. “[They] really need me and appreciate when I’m there, so I know I’m doing the right thing,” she says. “It’s a very rewarding feeling. ”