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October 6, 2015 | 23rd Tishrei 5776
Bikur Cholim


Note: The Union has caring community/bikur cholim resources and programs available through its Department of Jewish Family Concerns. Subscriptions to JFC's We Care listserv can be requested on the Union's listserv subscription page.

  1. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    We visit the sick members of our congregation as often as possible. This week we have a very sick chaver in the hospital who is unlikely to survive much longer. Since he has not been able to attend services , some of us are going to bring a Shabbat Service to his hospital room. I was wondering if any of you have done this before and how you did it. I will use our portable candlesticks and Kiddush cup that we use when we are on the road. Do any of you have any ideas for enriching the service to make it more meaningful in this particular situation?

  2. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    Here in Chicago, Chabad is very active at bringing Shabbat into hospitals, delivering Shabbat baskets to the rooms of identified Jewish patients. In addition to candles and wine, bring a challah--and it might be nice even to bring a Torah scroll. Far be it from me to give medical advice to a physician, but it'll probably be a good idea to keep the service short so as not to exhaust the patient.

  3. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    One of our temple members has been ill and hospitalized and really missed hearing the music at our service where we have a klemzer band on the bimah for the music portion. One of our members tape recorded it, and we burned a CD for her to listen to at her bedside.

  4. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    For about thirty years we have broadcast our Friday night services on the radio. We have a good number of listeners, including the elderly, both from our temple and others. In Miami, WVCG, 1080-AM.

    In a few weeks we will have our services streamed over the internet. So people in other communities can listen in, as well (

    490 members

  5. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    For many years our Sisterhood (WRJ) funded a process that allowed us to broadcast Shabbat evening services to homebound members through the use of a conference phone line. Members had to let the office know in advance so that the system would call them at 8 PM. While cost doomed this program, newer technology may allow it to work again. It might be worth investigating.
    525 families

  6. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    My fiancée and I have recently considered having Shabbat with her mother at the rest home. Something to consider: Many rest homes and hospitals forbid lighting candles in rooms.

    We're looking into electric lights.

    600-or-so families

  7. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    Although we do not provide hospital Shabbat Services, our cantor does provide a Friday Shabbat service at a local Assisted Living facility, which is home to about five or six Jewish residents. I'm told he attracts many non Jews to the service, and packs the small room he is given every Friday late afternoon. The feedback we get from the facility and residents is wonderful. We have a contractual agreement with them, and it works well for all involved.
    282 units

  8. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    Two thoughts--first, let's not forget lay leaders who have been trained and certified by the Reform Movement as ParaRabbinic Fellows and/or Sh’liach K’hilah. There are several who regularly lead services in convalescent/retirement homes.

    Second, don't many hospitals have a small chapel? Not all patients are bed-bound (and there are bed-type wheelchairs for those who are truly motivated).


  9. Feb 2005 Digest 036

    As a lay leader, I run a twice monthly Friday afternoon program at a local non-denominational assisted living facility. I do not do a complete service, but I think I include most of the important pieces. I light candles (I'm allowed to use real ones), we chant Hineih Mah Tov, Shalom Aleichem, and the Sh'ma, and we read the Ve'a'havta together in English. Then I deliver a d'var Torah, and we do a responsive reading or read some extra prayer together. I read Mishe Berach in Hebrew (I don't want to attempt to teach them a new melody) after asking for names to mention, and then we read Blessing for Celebration because I like something positive after Mishe Berach. We sing Oseh Shalom, and then we recite Mourner's Kaddish. When I first started I collected yahrzeit lists from everyone so I have names to read for them. We close with Adon Olam or Ein Keloheinu, and challah, grape juice (with blessings) and cookies.

    I've had three pre-bar mitzvah boys join me as part of their mitzvah project, and all of them enjoyed it enough that they've continued to join me after their b'nei mitzvah.

    I usually get around 15 to 20 people, and they are very participatory.


  10. Feb 2005 Digest 037

    Tonight my friends and I enjoyed a most wonderful Kabbalat Shabbat. We brought a portable Shabbos service to our sick chaver in the hospital. It was a short service lasting approximately twenty minutes. I commandeered a hospital table and set up my portable candlesticks…, a Kiddush cup, a challah with a cover and extras cups. We used the Welcoming Shabbat service from the CCAR, "Blessings for the Table". Our friend was able to enjoy a few sips of wine and a small bite of challah. After the Kabbalat Shabbat service, I recited the "Prayer at the Bedside of one who is Ill" found in The Rabbi’s Manual (CCAR). By this time, our friend's strength was fading and we took our leave. It was obvious that our friend enjoyed the service, but I know that those of us who brought the service to him were lifted to even greater heights.


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