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The Doctor Is Always In

Shimmy Blum

Dr. Reuven (Robert) Shanik, Lakewood’s indefatigable pediatrician, sees hundreds of little patients every day and has a round-the-clock open-door policy. His entire file cabinet of cases is stored in his head, and although he makes a diagnosis in a flash, parents already know that he’s always on target. But his medical genius notwithstanding, Dr. Reuven and Rochel Shanik have created more than a home of awards and accomplishments. Their living room, across the street from BMG, is Lakewood’s hub of chesed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It’s already past 2 a.m., and we’re having a relaxed schmooze in the Shanik living room – one of Lakewood’s most action-packed. A block away, Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG) has already quieted down for the night, but in the Shaniks’ red brick home, our mellow conversation is surrounded by a palpable tenacity that seems to defy the clock. Phone calls are being answered, tzedakah checks are being written, and gemach library books are being organized.

Dr. Shanik assures me that he still has some time to talk because he never goes to sleep before two, by the time patient calls and home visits have usually subsided; and either way, “four hours of sleep is perfectly fine.” Rochel Shanik, a pillar of chesed in her own right, explains that she, too, still has the night ahead of her before heading to bed.

Dr. Reuven (Robert) Shanik has become somewhat of an icon in Lakewood. Ask around about the indefatigable pediatrician, and you’ll get an earful of praise and personal stories, with particular wonder at his grueling round-the-clock schedule.

Yet, Dr. Shanik, in his typical understated, self-effacing fashion, doesn’t brag or wax poetic about his life dream, academic and medical accomplishments, or community awards, and doesn’t glorify his patient demands or his taxing daily routine.

As he looks forward to his upcoming day in the office, which typically runs from around 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Dr. Shanik, a man of few words but many deeds, shows no signs of weariness either.

“I don’t consider seeing frum patients in Lakewood as work,” he offers without fanfare. “I get the privilege of helping children and I often get to hear divrei Torah from their fathers, too. Enjoying what you do makes all the difference.”


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