"Jewish Penicillin" (AKA chicken noodle soup)

Getting Sick Along the Southern Jewish Road

Getting ill on the road isn’t awesome — but being taken care of by new friends makes it better

Since last summer, I’ve spent a lot of time traveling as an ISJL Education Fellow. Recently, a trip I took to Shreveport, Louisiana, took an unexpected — and quite unpleasant — turn.

The trip started well; it was my third time heading to that community. I drove the stretch of I-20 feeling calm and looking forward to the weekend ahead. I arrived safely, and was welcomed warmly by my hosts, Bill and Helaine Braunig. I was fortunate enough to experience Shabbat Shira on Friday night — a collection of talented musicians leading services for a special, extra-musical Shabbat. On Saturday morning I led a text study, with the privilege in participating in interesting conversation. I then was able to learn a little about sustainable agriculture in preparation for a religious school program for Tu Bishvat.

Things took a turn on that Saturday, late in the evening. We were getting ready for a teacher dinner, which Helaine was going to be hosting, and as the evening wore on, things just didn’t seem quite right with my stomach. The teachers came by, we had wine and cheese, but I didn’t make it past the hors d’oeuvres (yes, I had to look up how to spell that).

Sickness hit me and it hit me hard — it was the beginning of a nasty little stomach bug.

There’s nothing like getting violently sick on a work trip, in someone else’s home, with a bunch of teachers in the other room, to help give you some perspective. Think you were having a bad day at work that last dreary Monday? Ha… no. This was worse.

For a few sad moments as the stomach bug took hold, I felt not only very sick but also very alone. But as soon as it was clear I needed help, I was reminded that I was not alone: I had eight people there on my team. The teachers who had come over for dinner, none of whom I’d known before last summer, were immediately committed to my care and comfort.

There were phone calls made to have medicine dropped off, phone calls made to doctor-friends for guidance, and errands ran to Kroger to get some liquids with electrolytes and soup. Through my own miserable sweat, tears, and sickness, I knew I had their support, which was more than any amount of Pedialyte® could do for my health.

The only thing I could think of on the drive back home, late the next day, was how much love I felt in those dark hours. Although I was full of appreciation for the care I received, I was not surprised.

In the depth of my sick, when I felt less like a traveling Jewish professional and more like a sick little girl who wanted to be held by my mommy in San Antonio, I was still able to find care and familial comfort in Shreveport. Thank you to the community there, to the teachers, and to Helaine and Bill, for being a little home away from home and reminding me that we all really do take care of each other.

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