Sharing Gifts of the Torah in Hospice
Posted by Suzanne B. Griffel, Rabbi
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.
When Esther came into JourneyCare’s service, her family said that studying Torah one-on-one might be beneficial to her. As a member of Esther’s hospice team, I was available to offer her and her loved ones spiritual care and guidance. And so began regular visits with Esther for us to study the Torah together. Those visits were thought provoking and deeply meaningful for the patient, and at the same time, made a profound impact on me as a rabbi.
I’m now always reminded of Esther on Shavuot since it’s a Jewish holiday in which we celebrate the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation on Mt. Sinai. It is customary to read the Book of Ruth during this holiday. Ruth teaches us a person’s potential for greatness. She is viewed as the mother of royalty, and a paradigm of humility and generosity.
Through our studying together, I became more familiar with Esther and how she exemplified Ruth’s characteristics. She was humble, respectful, intelligent and very kind. As much as I enjoyed studying Torah with Esther, and eventually becoming better acquainted with her, she also left me with a sense of purpose in my life and my role as a rabbi at JourneyCare.
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