Jewish Care in Hospice: Celebrating Passover at the End of Life

Posted by Rhonda Wehner, Jewish Care Services Program Manager

Jewish Care in Hospice: Celebrating Passover at the End of Life

Beginning at sundown on March 30 through April 7 of this year, JourneyCare's Jewish Care Services team will be busy assisting many of our Jewish patients and their loved ones with celebrating the Passover holiday.

Every year, Jews celebrate the liberation from bondage in ancient Egypt during the holiday of Pesach (Passover). It's the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival and is observed for eight days. The ritual of the Seder is practiced on the first two nights, traditionally in the home. The word Seder means ‘order’ symbolizing that the rituals of the Seder are performed in a specific order, with a sumptuous feast being a centerpiece of the evening. 

To remember what the Israelites ate when they left Egypt for freedom, matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten instead of bread or bread products during this holiday. An important concept of the holiday is that each person should gain a personal understanding of the original Exodus experience. 

So, for many of our Jewish patients nearing the end of life and their families, it may not be possible to celebrate and perform a Passover Seder in a traditional way. Our staff and Jewish Care Services team are available to help families celebrate during an often-difficult time. 

Just a few days ago, a special family made an early Passover request. The patient, being cared for at our Ada F. Addington Hospice CareCenter at Rush University Medical Center, has always celebrated the holiday at home with her family. Understanding that she may not live to participate in the Seder this year, the family wanted to do an impromptu Seder in the patient's room.

The staff worked together to gather the needed ritual items, prayer books and foods on short notice so the family could celebrate together. The Jewish Care Services team provided guidance for the family, and let them know that if any added help or instruction was needed, the team was available for them. This made the family feel so cared for, added a special element to the end-of-life experience, and allowed for a meaningful holiday celebration that the family will hold in their hearts as a lovely memory. 

Chag Sameach!

Jewish Care Services offered by JourneyCare combines the expertise of a comprehensive, nationally recognized hospice and palliative care program with specialized care that is sensitive to Jewish culture and traditions. Learn more on our website.

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