Dorothy had it right: There’s no place like home


Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

One of the most memorable lines from The Wizard of Oz is “There is no place like home.” The importance and impact of this sentiment has really hit “home” for me recently. I hear these words all the time. Residents who are cognitively strong, and those whose memories come and go, all tell me the same thing. They want to go home. Now.

Many individuals still own their own home. Others have worked out a detailed plan how they can resume their former lives in a place they shared with their beloved spouse for over fifty years. They know this is their last place they will ever live. The sadness hangs in the room like a storm cloud.

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Imagine the despair and helplessness in their quivering voices as they look at me, almost pleading, with tears in their eyes.

I tell them that I know. There is no place like home. After a respectful and sometimes stilted silence, I ask them to describe their home to me. I gently coach forth the memories they hold so deep within their hearts and minds.

I hear from those who have been in facilities for over five years that this is NOT their home. I imagine, only in part though, that it is not their home because they are missing their spouse, their freedom and, for many, their dignity.

This week when I gather with family and friends at the Thanksgiving table, I am certain to include in my prayers, “There is no place like home.”