Yes, the news is grim today, what with the fires raging on the West Coast, the relentless Covid-19 infection rates, and the recent bombshell that President Trump understood the seriousness of the coronavirus yet did very little to warn or protect the American people.
In other words, in these dark times, we could all use a little light and inspiration. Thankfully, we have some, in the form of positive coronavirus news: After fighting Covid-19 for 158 days, Yehuda ‘Yudi’ Dukes, a rabbi and a father of six, was released from the ICU at a New York hospital with great fanfare.
Dukes, who lives on Long Island and is the director of the Jewish Learning Network, a global Chabad program that pairs people to study Judaism together, is believed to be one of the longest hospitalized coronavirus patients in the U.S., and his celebratory release last week was captured on camera.
Motti Seligson, Chabad’s media director, shared a heartwarming video of Dukes’ release from the ICU at NYU Langone on social media. The joyful clip shows hospital workers, family, and friends singing an upbeat niggun — a wordless Jewish melody that’s particularly common in Chabad tradition — as Dukes is wheeled out of the ICU and into rehab.
NYU ICU singing and dancing as Yudi Dukes leave after 158 days… One of the longest hospitlized Covid-19 patients. pic.twitter.com/fU828MSrE7
— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) September 4, 2020
Dukes overcame a variety of life-threatening complications, including collapsed lungs, sepsis, and a tracheotomy. Dukes’ wife, Sarah, called his recovery “a true miracle.”
As our partner site, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, recently reported, Sarah Dukes wrote in an August 11 Facebook post that her husband fought through each phase of his illness with grace and humility. “He told me today, ‘Every experience that I have been having, no matter how painful or negative it seems, is there to bring out the best in me and help me grow to be a better person. This trauma has been an opportunity for discovery,'” she wrote.
Music played a key role in helping the family manage during this difficult time. During the challenging four months when her husband was on a ventilator, Sarah and their 12-year old son, Baruch, composed a melody called “Once Again” that they shared when Dukes experienced a setback on May 31. Even when Dukes was unconscious, the family would sing to him over the phone from their home and Sarah would play piano.
Singing a niggun was a perfect way to commemorate this remarkable step in Dukes’ recovery. The rabbi can be seen clapping along and smiling, as well as warmly thanking the nurses involved in his treatment.
In these trying times, the strength and resilience of Dukes and his family are a beacon of light. Refua shlema to Rabbi Dukes as he enters rehab and the next step on his healing journey!
Header Image via Twitter @mottiseligson