Jewish connections desperately needed


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

When I was new to the position of chaplain I once pulled a Jewish resident out of Catholic Mass. I was assured, however, that she had not received communion! I calmly explained to an activity director that if the resident knew where she was, she would be aghast! The well-meaning employee retorted, “But she likes it!” The activity director could not comprehend why I found this so disturbing. In addition, I was in an area of West County where many Jewish residents resided.

This was not an isolated incident. I am going to a facility next week where I heard the priest is giving a Jewish resident communion. I have met her before and know she is extremely confused. Sometimes I believe residents respond to the simple kindness of human beings. Others are thrilled to be a part of an activity.

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I know of another resident, also in West County, who has spoken to me on numerous times. He had a bar mitzvah, and like many people, drifted away from his faith. Another resident told me she heard this man may convert out of Judaism.

While I have made pleas for volunteers before, I am once again asking the Jewish community to be a more active and visible presence on skilled and assisted living facilities. Go with a group from synagogue and help during BINGO. Go and conduct a simple Shabbat service with candles, kiddish and challah. Read Biblical passages. Be a Jewish presence.