By Rabbi Rick Sherwin

“You can brighten the days of people around you just by smiling.”

–Robert Brault

 As a chaplain at Nemours Children’s Hospital, I am privileged to work with staff and visit families who understand the power of a smile.

I hold tremendous respect for the strength and upbeat support of parents for their children, even as they feel a sense of worry and concern; and I see children – even those in pain – responding to Nemours’ incredibly supportive and positive nursing staff. I walk through the front doors and see Ray (security) greeting everyone with a smile. Harold heads the team of chaplains with uplifting gentleness and sensitivity. Joelle greets and says goodbye to every volunteer (over 400!) with the words “thank you,” always delivered with a smile. Erin and the nurses… so reassuring and just amazing!

Nurses, physicians, techs, food services, maintenance, chaplains, volunteers, child life, social services, administration, security… We all greet each other with an upbeat, supportive spirit. It carries over into the rooms we visit, the patients we treat, the parents we greet.

And then there are inspired people like Jennifer Cohen who coordinates the Thanksgiving Weekend PJ Library Build-a-Bear program. This year, 38 children came and created these small bears to be donated to the children at Nemours. Imagine the smiles and hugs these bears will receive!

In hospitals, the word “infectious” understandably casts a negative shadow. However, smiles that are infectious – anywhere in life, including hospitals – are a source of uplifting light.

The author Sharon Salzberg is correct: “Smiling… [has] significant health consequences.”


Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.


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