by Elana Boiskin, Jewish Chaplaincy Services Coordinator
Winter is supposed to be a time filled with holidays, happiness, and the warmth of family gatherings. But what does winter bring for those that feel depressed and isolated or are experiencing grief, a serious disability or terminal illness? Instead of happiness they may be reminded of all that is absent in their lives. That’s why we created the Jewish Chaplaincy Services Community Initiative.
Jewish Chaplaincy Services is one of the resources provided through the illness, loss and spiritual support at JCFS Chicago. Jewish Chaplaincy Services professionally trained chaplains are available to visit individuals and support families – in hospitals, hospices, nursing and independent living facilities and at homes. Chaplains offer welcoming, compassionate, easily accessible, spiritual support by:
- Listening with compassion and empathy
- Being a caring presence
- Exploring fundamental questions such as “Why would God allow this suffering?”
- Saying Jewish prayers and singing songs
- Deepening connections to Judaism and the Jewish community
Spiritual reflections can offer hope and strength. Even if challenges or suffering cannot be controlled, a positive spiritual and emotional response may help advance healing. As one of the Jewish Chaplaincy Services Chaplains recently reported:
I visited a Holocaust survivor in an assisted living facility on Chicago’s North Side. He seemed lonely and distraught, as he considered his aging and decline. I asked him, “Is there anything for which you are thankful?” He paused for a moment or two and then said, “My family and my life. I never knew if I would even have either one when I was in the camps. While I know they cannot be here all the time, I am grateful they come and take care of me when I need them. And I am just grateful to be alive in this country.” His mood changed as he was able to offer these words to me knowing that I would accept whatever he would say. And he grew calmer and less anxious as he found ways to express gratitude.
Jewish Chaplaincy Services also provides support for professionals and institutions by offering learning opportunities as well as Shabbat and holiday programming. For more information or to request a chaplain visit, contact Carol Brumer Gliksman at 847.745.5404.