‘Tis the season of comfort and joy. How is that possible working with Jewish patients in hospice? That’s not as much of a challenge as might one think. As a Jewish Care Service Ambassador, I have the wonderful opportunity to visit with our Jewish hospice patients and provide Jewish support and companionship.
Chanukah is called the Festival of Lights based on the historical story of the miracle of one jar of oil lasting eight days for the golden menorah in the time of the Temple. Recently while singing Chanukah songs and playing the traditional game of dreidel, (a four-sided top with one of my patients), I thought to myself that this visit felt more like the actual miracle.
This patient is predominantly non-verbal, but knowing she loves music, I began to sing a traditional Chanukah song with her. She began to literally sing out loud, clap her hands and dance in her wheelchair. Her frail hands could spin the dreidel and she threw her arms up in the air with excitement when she won the pot of chocolate gelt (coins) in the center of the table. The Chanukah atmosphere inspired her to talk about celebrating the holiday and lighting her menorah with her family.
Contrary to our modern celebrations of Chanukah, there is no significance to giving materialistic gifts. On our service, we can bring our patients the gift of comfort and joy. That certainly feels incredibly significant and more meaningful to me and my patients.
Chanukah this year began the evening of December 12. Each night another candle on the menorah is lit through December 19 until all eight candles are burning bright and reminding us of the joy and miracles we can perform in our work with our hospice patients.