As the holiday season approaches, many memories and feelings come to mind. It is a time to be with family and celebrate religious and cultural traditions. However, for many hospice patients travel or participating in customs can be difficult or even impossible.
At LightBridge Hospice, we strive to honor the beliefs and traditions of each patient and know the importance of respecting these customs.
For many of our Jewish hospice patients, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a significant and meaningful time of year. Ohr Ami, which means "Light of My People, is the Jewish Hospice Program that is rooted in an understanding and appreciation of Judaism and Jewish tradition.
As Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year begins, we understand how important this time of year is for most Jews. Synagogues on this day and on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which occurs ten days later, are visited by Jews who may not attend regular services during the year. Traditionally on the first evening, symbolic food is served at special family dinners to commemorate the beginning of the new year.
For hospice clients, especially those not living at home with family, it can be a sad time. Their physical limitations preclude them from going to the synagogue to hear the sounding of the Shofar (ram's horn) which is the unique synagogue ritual of the day. They may remember special holiday dinners in which they can no longer participate.
Ohr Ami seeks to enhance the spiritual meaning of the holiday. Our Rabbi visits patients in the days before Rosh Hashanah to sound the Shofar at their bedside. Even for patients with significant dementia, the blasts of the Shofar reaches back to their earliest religious memories and brings them comfort and meaning.
At the Rosh Hashanah eve dinner, it is traditional for Jews to dip apples in honey to symbolically express the wish that the coming year might be a sweet one. Through the Simple Gifts program of LightBridge Hospice Community Foundation, our Jewish patients receive apples and honey in the days before Rosh Hashanah. For those who cannot eat apples but can eat softer foods, we provide chewy chocolate honey candies. Some patients also receive jars of gefilte fish which is another traditional holiday food.
LightBridge Hospice understands the importance of traditional rituals for its Jewish patients and seeks to enhance their spiritual well-being through the services provided by Ohr Ami – The Jewish Hospice Program.
Rabbi Ralph Dalin, Rabbinic Director of Ohr Ami - The Jewish Hospice Program