For Patients & Families
Hospice means the patient comes first.
Their specially trained staff can make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible at all times. The hospice staff becomes an extension of the family, easing everyone’s pain and burden. Professional support that is both compassionate and culturally sensitive is invaluable for patients and their families. (Learn more…)
NIJH contributes to how Jewish patients and their families are treated during end of life transitions.
We train the staff of hospices to be sensitive to Jewish concerns. On this page you’ll find information (booklets) on many important end of life issues. We also maintain a 24-hour hotline to provide advice to both families and caregivers.
What does it mean to serve the Jewish community in a culturally sensitive way?
Thousands of years of Jewish tradition provide guidelines that have helped people manage this end-of-life period of crisis through attitudes, rituals, prayers and religious symbols that most Jews observe at least in part.
Judaism has many practices and customs that are very meaningful, especially to a dying patient. These might be holiday celebrations, prayers, kosher dietary laws, charity etc. Generally, hospice services take place in the home. (There are a few in hospitals.) When a hospice worker comes into the home, if he/she is familiar with these practices and customs it makes the hospice experience significantly easier on the patient and the family.
There are many different groups within Judaism, from secular all the way to Ultra-Orthodox. Within those groupings there are many commonalities and many differences. Each individual, although he or she might belong to a particular group, might want different customs observed.
NIJH teaches the traditional Jewish viewpoint, highlighting the major differences. We stress that these are generalities and the hospice has to learn what are the particulars of each client.
Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm was the founder of The National Institute for Jewish Hospice. For several decades Jews have turned to Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s classic work, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, for direction and consolation. Selected by The New York Times as one of the ten best religious books of the year when it was first published in 1969, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning has lead the family and friends of the deceased through the most difficult chapter of life-from the moment of death through the funeral service, the burial, and the various periods of mourning.
We’ve made many of the topics covered in The Jewish Way on Death and Mourning available here, free for download.
Rabbi Lamm gently leads through the corridors of Jewish law and teaches the aching heart how to express its pain in love and respect so that it might begin on the road to eventual healing.
1) For Families of the Jewish Terminally Ill
3) Caring for Jewish Hospice Patients
6) Jewish Medical Ethics and End of Life Care
7) Singing Breaks the Spiritual Deadlock
8) Implementing Empathy at the End of Life
10) Jewish Mourning Customs – An Overview
12) Death is a Night Between Two Days
“As a Christian working in a Jewish hospice, I was not aware of many customs. It was imperative of me to learn and understand the customs to be able to provide holistic care. Thank you!”