A Life of Giving // A conversation with the venerable Lakewood pediatrician Dr. Reuven Shanik

By: Gershon Helman

Dr. Reuven Shanik is a Lakewood icon. For close to half a century he has been the town’s foremost pediatrician, caring for its children as it grew from a small community centered around the famed yeshivah, Beth Medrash Govoha, to a Jewish metropolis.
Dr. Shanik originally moved to Lakewood as a young doctor after accepting an offer to join a medical practice in the neighboring town of Toms River. Within a short time, his modest home, located just one block from BMG, became a bastion of chesed.
Aside from his expertise in all aspects of pediatrics, maintained by his vociferous reading of all the latest medical journals to stay abreast of breakthroughs and cutting-edge treatments, Dr. Shanik is also the go-to address for patients who are going through a difficult time and need a listening ear. There have been many times when a child was brought in with symptoms that Dr. Shanik deemed serious enough to be sent to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for emergency attention. On their way out of the office, Dr. Shanik would quietly make sure that his receptionist gave them a food package for the trip.
Although Dr. Shanik’s practice, Pediatric Affiliates, has grown exponentially over the decades, the people he treats are more than mere patients; they are members of Dr. Shanik’s beloved community. He is typically in the office from early morning until late at night, but his night doesn’t necessarily end there, as he is often consulted by patients around the clock.
Together with his wife, Mrs. Rochel Shanik, he runs a massive grassroots chesed organization, Ahavas Tzedakah, which Mrs. Shanik founded and has personally overseen for more than 25 years. The organization began with a handful of families whom Mrs. Shanik knew needed assistance. Today, under the management of Mrs. Nechama Goldberg, it helps hundreds of families make ends meet by providing millions of dollars each year to pay for basic groceries, clothing, shoes, housewares and more through special debit cards that are accepted in more than 45 Lakewood stores.
Despite his grueling schedule, Dr. Shanik is also involved in his wife’s free book-lending library, which Mrs. Shanik runs along with her Bikur Cholim activities, shidduch groups and shiurim that she organizes.
I am truly grateful to Dr. Shanik for finding the time to pay a visit to Ami’s Lakewood offices, where he shared his fascinating life story.

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