Beth Ahabah Voices: Ike Koziel
May 8, 2017
by Ike Koziel
I came to America as as toddler. During my childhood I remember my parents Goldie and Julius and my uncle Joe and aunt Lucy packing clothing in cartons to ship to places like Uruguay, Israel and Poland. I remember sealing the boxes and shlepping them to the post office with my father. This was in the 1950s and there were people in need in those places. There were many who survived the war and were destitute. We were not well off but there were many worse off than we were. So my parents and their landsman helped. They were also constantly raising money for Israel or other causes through their society of folks that came from the same town in Poland. These were working people who were actually healing the world in any way they could.
Someone asked me why I am so busy after I left my active medical work. After you worked so hard, you “deserve to enjoy your retirement” First off, I do not like the word “retirement.” It seems so passive. I have adopted the AARP phrase of reimagine my life. Many of us work until one day we stop. In life, there is other work that can follow. There is other work that begs to be done and I enjoy doing it. Secondly, I deserve nothing more than others. Sure, doctors work long hours but there are many who have worked longer and harder and cannot afford to stop.
After I left my active work I took some time off and just relaxed. I then looked for ways in which I could make a difference. I had some knowledge and skills that were still needed. I sought out a few free clinics in town and started helping out. I wanted to do things that I enjoyed and where I could make a difference. I then joined the Admissions Committee at VCU School of Medicine and helped interview and select future doctors. A few years ago I was introduced to another volunteer opportunity in Wise, Virginia. The area is over 5 hours from Richmond and it is economically deprived. I went there during 4 hot summer days to work at a huge free event held at the fairgrounds. It was a yearly medical clinic for those who have no predictable access to health care. Once a year they could see a medical doctor or dentist. They could get a hearing aid, eyeglasses, mammogram etc. All for free but only once a year. After that clinic long weekend, I decided that I would return every three months and just do whatever I could at a local medical clinic called the Health Wagon. I did this a few times and then enlisted two fellow Beth Ahabah congregants, Drs. David Gardner and Ken Olshansky. We now we go there every three months.
My life has been enriched by things that give it meaning and pleasure. My absolute greatest pleasure is spending time with my best friend and beautiful wife Judith.
“Voices” is a series written by and about the members of Beth Ahabah. If you would like to submit an article about a friend or family member at Beth Ahabah, or your own adventures, avocations or interesting career, please contact Lori Allen in the Temple office at email@example.com.