web analytics
September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



The Ins And Outs Of Visiting The Sick: An Interview With Hospital Chaplain Rabbi Simeon Schreiber

.

Some people are naturals at visiting people in the hospital. Others feel awkward: What should I say? How long should I stay? Does the person even want me to come?

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior staff chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida, has just written a book, A Caring Presence: Bringing the Gift of Hope, Comfort and Courage, addressing some of these common concerns based on his 10 years of chaplaincy experience.

Although obviously a regular visitor to hospitals, Rabbi Schreiber found himself in a hospital last month in an unusual position – as a patient undergoing open-heart surgery. “Thank God,” he told The Jewish Press two weeks after the operation, “the surgery was successful and everything is good.” In addition to making a complete recovery, Rabbi Schreiber said he hopes his recent experience as a patient will make him even more sensitive to the needs of the hospital-bound.

The Jewish Press: When and why did you enter the chaplaincy?

I’ve been a chaplain for about 10 years. I first started thinking about becoming a chaplain when my son, who is now in his 40s, developed Hodgkin’s disease. It was very sudden. He was actually in Israel and expected to go into the army. Then he got this notice from the army that something was wrong and they subsequently told him he has lymphoma.

I brought him back to the States about two or three days after that for a full year of tests, operations and chemo. Thank God he managed to pull through and is flourishing right now with a wife and three children in Kansas City. But I think that got me started on the concept of trying to take care of people.

In the book you state that most of the advice you offer is common sense. If so, why is the book necessary?

People are not so familiar with common sense sometimes. For example, if you would ask me what my pet peeve is, it’s people not calling before they come to visit someone. People forget that bikur cholim is not about the visitor but the person you’re visiting. And that person sometimes just doesn’t want to be visited.

To wit, when I was in the hospital recently I just did not want visitors – and people have to respect that. I had someone show up at 11 o’clock at night; he just walked into my room. I had a central line in my neck with three tubes showing out, and this person just showed up, “Hi, I’m here,” and I wasn’t very happy.

You write in the book that one shouldn’t joke around with patients or talk about matters irrelevant to their condition. But don’t jokes sometimes cheer a person up, distracting him from his sickness?

I think what you say is true. You have to assess the patient. What I write in the book is not hewn in stone. They are flexible ideas.

Many people, though, assume bikur cholim is about telling jokes. But that’s not what the patient really wants. It’s not a comedy session. The key to proper hospital visitation is really listening to the patient. It’s not necessarily doing all the talking. It’s about allowing the patients to talk about what’s bothering them. Talking about what went on and maybe the fears or concerns they had – there’s a cathartic kind of response to that that makes them feel better.

That’s not to say that visitors can never crack a joke or talk about something that’s off the subject. Of course they can. It’s dialogue between people. But I don’t think that should be the main focus.

You also argue in the book that people should never promise a patient that things will get better. Do you find that many people do that?

People want to fix the situation. They come there with the idea that when they leave, the person is going to be 100 percent better. What I’ve come to learn, however – and I think it’s probably the most frustrating part of being a chaplain – is that I cannot change what is. I can’t make a 90-year-old man 50, and I can’t get rid of terminal cancer.

The best we can do in situations like that is just allow the person to talk about their situation in the hope that things will be okay in terms of living with what they have. That’s a role visitors have to understand as well. Their job is not to change things. It’s about being – the title of the book says it all – it’s about being a caring presence. It’s just to be there with them in their time of need, and to hold their hand. For them to know that someone cares is really the most critical thing you can do in chaplaincy.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Ins And Outs Of Visiting The Sick: An Interview With Hospital Chaplain Rabbi Simeon Schreiber”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Protest rally against Metropolitan Opera staging Death of Klinghoffer on 9/22 at 4:30 pm at the Met.
For Grass Roots Klinghoffer Protest 9/22, Jewish Establishment MIA
Latest Sections Stories

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Baim-092614-Plate

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Ben Cohen

If you remember, in 2006, a Jewish kid in Paris, Ilan Halimi, was abducted, beaten, and held hostage for three weeks… These are the kinds of people attending these Gaza solidarity rallies.

Rabbi Berel Wein

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

Formerly an attorney at the prestigious law firm Proskauer Rose for 40 years – six of those years as its chairman – Fagin holds degrees from both Columbia and Harvard Universities. He retired in 2013 to devote more time to the Jewish community.

The message is that Zionism, which used to be great, is today very institutionalized and [consists of a] bunch of people who are just squabbling over titles and budgets.

For Steinsaltz, the Rebbe was no less than “the greatest man I have ever met,” as he writes in the preface to his book.

If a child is seldom required to yield his desires and needs to those of others, surely doing so as an adult will not come naturally to him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/health/the-ins-and-outs-of-visiting-the-sick-an-interview-with-hospital-chaplain-rabbi-simeon-schreiber/2011/12/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: