Playing Music for Chesed
“I don’t actually have a good voice, but I love to play guitar,” says Benji Richter (‘10), as he expounds on his love for music.
As a music major studying at Yeshiva University, it didn’t take long for Richter to discover a wonderful chesed opportunity–the student-run club called “Music Vs.” The objective of this initiative is to reach out to patients in hospitals or nursing homes and connect with them through the powerful bond of music. Whether a student chooses to play an instrument or sing, the music serves as an avenue to create a natural and comfortable environment to ultimately develop a relationship with a patient. Ultimately the music is a means to an end: to cultivate relationships with patients who are struggling with a medical condition. It is for this reason that as part of the club, participants call one patient per week to further develop the relationship initiated during their visit.
Music Vs. was founded by Mark Weingarten at Yeshiva University and has now spread to roughly 20 colleges and five high schools across the United States and as far as Israel and Canada. Benji visits the hospitals with other students, but he is primarily involved with the behind the scenes elements of the club. While Benji frequently visits area hospitals, he is involved in the behind the scene elements as well. He serves on the national board of the organization and is involved in recruiting new schools to join this effort, among them-–ICJA.
Along with other board members, Benji is working to expand beyond the hospitals and nursing homes into psychiatric wards and potentially to foster homes.
Outside of music, but no less impressive, Benji is taking pre-med courses to eventually pursue a medical career. He’s not sure how all of his interests will serve him, but for now, he’s thankful and loving all the opportunities that his post-ICJA experiences and education continue to offer him.