Literally translated, Bikur Cholim means visiting the sick, but this wouldn’t accurately describe the Jewish Family Service Visiting Initiative. Not only do we visit the sick, but we also stop by to say hello to the lonely, provide friendship to the chronically disabled, and bring Jewish traditions to the isolated. We’ll even cook a meal or two for post-surgery patients who are recovering from hospitalization.
Visits might include reading books or magazines, conversing, taking a stroll, playing games or cards, writing letters, organizing photos, alphabetizing phone numbers and addresses, leading prayer, celebrating a Jewish holiday or Shabbat, or recording a personal history.
Isolated community members of all ages thrive on personal visits; caring and meaningful relationships reduce the risk of depression and enhance the quality of life.
There is more than one way to help someone feel a Jewish connection.
Give your time to someone who can really benefit from a cheerful voice and a friendly chat. The person you visit might live in his/her home or in a retirement village. On a nice day, go for a walk. On a rainy day, read together, play cards or games; enjoy music. A single hour of compassionate caring can enrich your life as much as you enrich the lives of others.
Bikur Cholim literally means visiting the sick. In 2004, Jewish Family Service started a visiting program at Jewish Hospital. It is going strong. Ask a friend to sign up with you, and make your visits together!
Bring holiday rituals and memories to residential communities in the Cincinnati area. Help Jewish residents celebrate their identity where there may not be much of a Jewish population. Present holiday activities for Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Passover, and a summer activity of your choice. This is an especially nice way for congregations to involve their entire membership, by sharing the talents of young and old.
Bikur Cholim/ Jewish Visiting Workshops...
A series of workshops was held to create more thoughtful and intentional caring communities for our congregations. Workshops were led by Hebrew Union College Rabbinic students. You can be a vital link in connecting your congregation to your fellow congregants who are homebound or in residential care. Bring the message that they are remembered by you and by the Jewish community. Learn more.
A little nail polish goes a long way to making a woman feel special.
Women at the Bridgeway Pointe assisted living community felt extra special when Jewish Family Service organized a Spa Day for them Tuesday, March 27. Eight of the residents were pampered by students at Paul Mitchell: the School who volunteered to do manicures and hair styling.
The spa day idea spawned from the idea of resident Shelley Shapiro, 63, who receives pastoral care through a collaboration of Jewish Family Service and Hebrew Union College.
Shelley asked Stephanie Covitz, a rabbinic intern, to give her a manicure. Because of her paralysis on one side Shelley is unable to polish her own nails.
“I started wanting a manicure for me and thought let’s do it for all the other girls here,” said Shelley.
A manicure isn’t quite in the realm of support rabbinic students normally provide. But after thinking about what the request really meant, Stephanie shared the request with Pat Rosenberg, Jewish Family Service Jewish Visiting Initiative: Bikur Cholim (Hebrew for visiting the sick) project coordinator.
“We decided the idea had significant value,” said Pat. “It links people to a more enabled past, bumps up their self-esteem, and provides a social interaction that so many of us take for granted,” said Pat.
Sandee Golden, Jewish Family Service volunteer coordinator, arranged for the beauty school students to provide the manicures and hair styling to the women who, according to Pat, may not get their hands held very often, or their hair stroked ever.
“Stephanie is my Rabbi and my friend. And Jewish Family Service is a good organization. They always come through,” said the beautifully coiffed Shelley staring at her bright orange nails.
“It is an extraordinary gift, the gentle touch of a human being,” said Pat.
From the giggles heard down the hallway, the residents agreed.
Volunteers with the Bikur Cholim project of Jewish Family Service provide emotional support and caring to individuals who are homebound or in assisted living communities. Pastoral Care is a free service of Jewish Family Service and Hebrew Union College to provide rabbinic support for individuals who are not affiliated with a congregation.