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Spiritual Care


Sharing Gifts of the Torah in Hospice

Sharing Gifts of the Torah in Hospice

As the Jewish holiday of Shavuot approaches, (at sundown on May 30 through nightfall on June 1), I’m reminded of a hospice patient that I had the honor of studying Torah with during our visits together over a year’s time.

The patient, whom I’ll call Esther, had moved from Philadelphia to Chicago to be closer to her family at the end of her life. She had recently lost her husband, her tight knit Torah study group, and her social network in Philadelphia.

A Grateful Light

A Grateful Light

Chanukah (Dec. 24-Dec. 31) is a holiday rich in Jewish history and traditions. Some refer to it as the Festival of Lights due to the lighting of Menorahs and the miracle relating to the oil. In the time of the Holy Temple, one jar of oil lasted eight days. This is also the reason for why the holiday lasts eight days.

This year, while I enjoy celebrating with family and friends and eating the symbolic foods of the holiday, including potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts), I will remember a patient of mine who was a Holocaust survivor.

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.

Having a More Peaceful Holiday Season

Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.

Thursdays with Lidia (Copy)

Soon after I started working full time in hospice care as a chaplain, I made an initial visit to a patient and her daughter. Little did I know that after 144 visits, four Christmas celebrations, four birthday parties and countless other “just because” fiestas, I would pray the final words of commendation at her graveside with tears in my eyes. As a chaplain I don’t have favorite patients, but there are those that attach to the heart in special ways... especially after five years of visits, laughs, cups of tea and tears.

Healing in Hospice Care

Early on in my hospice career, I was taught a beautiful lesson: healing does not mean cure. I had a 36 year old patient who was terminally ill with sinus cancer. He had endured several painful and unsuccessful facial reconstruction surgeries which had left his face scarred and bloated. He was married with a teenaged son.

Yizkor: Remembering Together

Yizkor, which means remembrance in Hebrew, is Judaism's memorial prayer. It is customary for Jews in mourning to recite this prayer throughout the year.

As part of our Jewish Care Services team, we help host an annual Yizkor Service that is open to any of our Jewish families who have lost a loved one over the past year. Our Yizkor Service provides a safe environment for families to honor their loved ones and the sadness and grief that accompany their loss. The service is led by our Jewish Care Services team, our rabbis, as well as a member of the Bereavement Team.

Gifts of Being a Chaplain

I have been a chaplain for Midwest CareCenter for almost fourteen years and before that I was a volunteer for ten years. My children have grown from toddlers to graduate school and along the way my colleagues have listened to stories as my family grew. In the process, they have become part of my extended family.

Holocaust Survivors: Names Not Numbers

Holocaust Survivors: Names Not Numbers

As the Coordinator of Jewish Care Services, I have been proud of my ability to help educate our staff about the Holocaust, and caring for aging Survivors as they come to our service. I have developed curriculums to teach children, adults in Nursing Facilities, and our palliative and hospice staff. I believe it is important to keep talking about this time in history and how events in the world currently have brought fears of another Holocaust to the forefront. Imagine how those Survivors still with us must feel? The fears they are likely living with? I go to many events that support Survivors or give me opportunities to hear their stories. For that reason, I was drawn to the Names, Not Numbers program when it was described to me by a Jewish Care Services ambassador who is a parent of students at Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School in Skokie, Ill., which is sponsoring the project.

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