Ohr Ami FAQ

Ohr Ami Frequently Asked Questions 

If you have a specific question and do not find answers here, feel free to call us at 858.458.3602 or send us a message using our contact form.

Ohr Ami is a Hebrew phrase meaning "Light of My People". It is the name of The Jewish Hospice Program, the first Hospice program in San Diego County specifically dedicated to the needs and concerns of the Jewish community.

Hospice is not a place but a concept of care. Ohr Ami provides Hospice care wherever the patient resides—at home, in a skilled nursing facility, hospital or other healthcare facility. Ohr Ami does not have its own Hospice building.

Ohr Ami strives to be a living embodiment of the Jewish value of hesed (loving-kindness). Hospice staff exemplify this value and the services they render provide a continuous stream of acts of hesed to their patients and families. Providing comfort, dignity and peace of mind is both our mission and our passion. Our commitment is to bring to patients and their loved ones physical, emotional and spiritual support, all within a Jewish context. 

It is true that the word "Hospice" stems from the Latin word "hospitium" meaning guest house and was originally used to describe a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from Christian pilgrimages. During the 1960's, Dame Cicely Saunders, a British physician began the modern Hospice movement by establishing a Christian Hospice, St. Christopher's Hospice, near London.

However the philosophy of Hospice is in consonance with basic Jewish values, including the recognition of the Divine image in each human being and the sacred responsibilities involved in caring for one who is critically ill.

No, it does not. Hospice is devoted to caring for terminally ill individuals whose life expectancy has been measured in months rather than years and for whom cure is no longer a realistic expectation. Under Hospice care, the desired goals are to maximize patient comfort and improve the quality of life.

Ohr Ami affirms the Jewish imperative u'va'harta ba'hayyim, "choose life."  By helping to assure that a patient is kept as comfortable and pain-free as possible, by assisting the patient and family to attend to end-of-life issues and by maximizing the quality of their time together, Ohr Ami honors the mandate to cherish life and live every day to its fullest.

Ohr Ami staff members have all been educated in the religious traditions, culture and history of Judaism and the Jewish people. They are aware of the rhythm of Jewish life that may affect their Jewish clients and families, including the Jewish holiday cycle and the significance of Jewish life cycle events. Families who keep kosher can rest assured that Ohr Ami staff and volunteers will be familiar with, and sensitive to, their dietary needs. All Ohr Ami personnel have been familiarized with Jewish laws and customs related to end-of-life procedures as well as Jewish funeral and mourning practices.

Spiritual care and guidance are available to the patient and/or family from a rabbi. Whereas all Hospices have chaplains, who usually are not Jewish yet offer spiritual support to Jews and non-Jews alike, the chaplain for Ohr Ami Hospice will always be a rabbi. The Ohr Ami rabbi offers spiritual counseling, is a resource for information regarding Jewish rituals and traditions and provides assistance in dealing with end-of-life concerns within a Jewish context. Ohr Ami's Rabbinic Director oversees all the specifically Jewish aspects of the Program.

All members of the Ohr Ami care team are familiar with, appreciative of, and sensitive to, the diversity of Jewish expression within the community. They understand that the spectrum of Jewish life is such that their Jewish clients may range from very religiously observant to those who would identify themselves as secular. While some Jewish families may choose Ohr Ami Hospice to assure that Jewish traditions will be understood and followed, others may simply prefer that their Hospice have a Jewish context. In any case, the team always respects and addresses the specific spiritual and comfort care needs of each individual.

The bereavement program for Ohr Ami families has unique aspects which recognize and address the specific ways in which Jewish tradition might impact the grieving process.

The Ohr Ami rabbi does not take the place of a person's synagogue rabbi. In fact, with a patient's permission, the Ohr Ami rabbi will be in contact with the congregational rabbi so that both can be of maximum support to the patient and family. The Ohr Ami staff values the role of the family rabbi and will always view the family rabbi as the leader in providing spiritual support when that is the wish of the patient and/or family. After death takes place, Ohr Ami urges the family to turn to their family rabbi for funeral officiation and for guidance through the period of mourning.

Absolutely! Ohr Ami offers members of the Jewish community the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of bikkur holim (visiting the sick). For further information contact the Director of Volunteer Services at 858.458.3602. Ohr Ami welcomes the opportunity to coordinate with congregational groups in providing support to patients and families who are affiliated with a particular synagogue.

Ohr Ami, The Jewish Hospice Program, is a freestanding project of LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care. LightBridge is accredited by The Joint Commission.

Ohr Ami was developed in collaboration with Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, Jewish Family Service of San Diego and the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County. It is the Hospice of choice of Seacrest Village Retirement Communities.

Ohr Ami accepts donations via a non-profit foundation that LightBridge Hospice has established through the Jewish Community Foundation. Donations to Ohr Ami made through this non-profit foundation are tax-deductible and are exclusively used to benefit the Jewish community of San Diego County.

Tax-deductible donations can be made by check payable to the LIGHTBRIDGE HOSPICE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION with a note designating it for THE SAN DIEGO JEWISH HOSPICE PROGRAM FUND.

Contributions should be mailed to:
The Jewish Hospice Program
LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care
6155 Cornerstone Court East, Suite 220
San Diego, CA 92121

Contact SVP of Operations Pamela Hough or Rabbinic Director Rabbi Ralph Dalin at 858.458.3602 or 858.458.2992.