You Should Know … Rivka Heisler

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Rivka Heisler makes it a point to say that she loves her job, “love” being in capital letters. Born and raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, she came to Baltimore for college and has stayed these past 11 years.

(Courtesy)

The 29-year-old attended the all-girls Maalot academic institution, now called WITS (Women’s Institute of Torah). There, she studied psychology, aiming to be a social worker. Her initial career led her to a few different positions; she taught at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, drove for Lyft and eventually landed in an administration job at a nursing-home facility.

Today, she is the regional director of employee experience at Autumn Lake Healthcare, which includes the King David Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pikesville. She lives in the Greenspring neighborhood of Baltimore.

Where are you from, and what was your childhood like?
Growing up in Minneapolis is what I’d describe as wholesome with lots of folks out walking their dogs, garages open all weekend and parks galore. Being part of a large family — 12 children; I am No. 6 — was interesting, and my siblings are my absolute closest friends (watch for my book coming out soon, LOL).

Name your favorite dinner as part of such a big family.
Chicken and rice was — and still is — my favorite meal.

What was it like studying at an all-girls college and adapting to a city so far from home?
Great! I found that being able to focus on my studies and not boys was really helpful. I attended high school in Denver, so independence was something I was already comfortable with.

How are you connected Jewishly in your adopted city?
During my time in Baltimore, I’ve been involved in the Jewish Community Services Big Sister program; Menucha; I have delivered meals for the Bikur Cholim (“healing the sick”) program … there are so many wonderful chesed organizations in our area. I am so impressed and feel privileged to live in a community that has such a large focus on spreading kindness.

Recently, I’ve also become involved in A Single Impact, an organization that provides support, resources and advocacy for singles in our community.

What satisfies you most about your job? Does the healing and caring aspect correlate to your Jewish values?
I am so passionate about ensuring that our employees feel valued and appreciated. When an employee feels seen and valued, patient care is improved, and that’s what we’re here for. Bishvili Nivra Ha’Olam and “taking responsibility for others” are mantras I try to live by.

What were some of the challenges at work in these past few years, especially as it relates to vulnerable seniors?
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it was very difficult for families to connect with their loved ones. Being that I was an employee (at King David Rehab at that time), I had the opportunity to go in and out of patient rooms, deliver packages and letters from families, and spend time with residents. Although this meant putting on full protective gear each time, I felt like I was making a real difference in the lives of seniors in our community. During that time, I spearheaded a PenPal program between children in community schools and our residents; morale boosting activities for our staff; and weekly tailgates for hospital employees at Sinai and Northwest. COVID was a very challenging time, but in retrospect, it showed us just how beautifully we all came together to take care of one another.

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