It’s been a difficult time for everyone recently, but if you or a family member has needed hospital admission it’s been much more challenging.   Visitors have not been allowed and as the hospitals has been so busy its often been hard to get information for relatives who phone in.

Rabbi Stanley Coten, Senior Jewish Hospital Chaplain says that, ‘many people do not realise that most hospitals in London have designated Jewish Chaplains, who can visit and see their religious and cultural requirements are met.’  Jewish Visiting, runs the Jewish Chaplaincy service which is coordinated by the United Synagogue for the benefit of the whole community.
Recently Rabbi Coten visited Marion at  Northwick Park hospital she had not seen her
grandchildren for 2 months, so I got them on a whatsapp call. Her son
said that it made a big difference to her general well-being. She has
subsequently gone home.

‘Though I have to admit’ Rabbi Coten continues, ‘It’s also been a challenging time
time for chaplains some of them can’t visit as they’ve been self isolating.’

In another situation, Rachel was admitted to Barnet Hospital, her husband ill at the time  so could not escort her. ‘They were terribly busy’ Rachel said ‘had I gone I without a phone I would have felt completely cut off from the outside world,  I could not have told the family where I was, my husband was also ill with Coronavirus himself, he could not bring
me in. It was just before Pesach when, there was such a strain on hospital resources.  Rachel, despite being an active member shul member in Edgware said ‘I had no idea the hospital had a Jewish Chaplain. I would have tried to make contact with the Chaplain.’

One person had trouble getting his teflllin brought to the Hospital, that situation  got resolved when the Lead Chaplain at the hospital contacted our chaplain to move things along.

Sharna Kinsley, a volunteer  visitor at the Royal Marsden hospital in Chelsea, was contacted by a lady with her mother in St Helier Hospital, near Sutton, wanting to speak to a rabbi this was at the time during the height of the Coronavirus just before Pesach.  It was difficult to get anyone to her mother and be allowed into hospital. Sharna said I’m pleased to  say that her mother has now returned home, but we are in touch with her and she has Rabbi Coten’s details to call.’  It’s interesting how people with no connection to the community for many years, suddenly when they have acute pastoral needs, like an elderly relative,  reaches out to the Jewish community for help. Rabbi Coten said, ‘We do our best to help everyone whatever their level of affiliation or even if they are not connected to any community.’

Things seem to be getting a little easier now as Vivian Freeman volunteer visitor at Great Ormond Street Hospital said, ‘It’s better now the Shabbat room is now open where shabbat meals can be kept hot, but everyone has been told been told they should not stay in the room and the meals should be eaten at the bedside and not eaten in the room’. Ezra Umarpeh, stock the Shabbat room.  We, as volunteer visitors are not yet in the hospital.
We are advising families over the phone’, Michele Massing another hospital visitor said that ‘the families we phone are very grateful and many come from outside London, so they are particularly pleased to have someone contact them with more local knowledge.’

There was a case of another lady from Northwest London lady to a hospital outside of just outside London, at one point she had no idea where her 90 year old mother was. Eventually she was found, but they’d also had to move her from one ward to another. The lady, over 90, has recovered from Coronavirus and is back home.

So there have been some heart-warming stories of recovery during this period.

Sadly while many people have died, so there have been some heart-warming stories of
recovery during this period.

If you want to get hold of the Jewish Chaplain please contact the relevant hospital or Jewish Visiting.