A recent story about hospice care describes what happened when a hospice patient, who had been agnostic most of his life, requested a visit with a rabbi when he entered hospice care:
Rabbi Tsurah August...said that when she met with Ira at his home, she looked for his connections to Judaism. Ira played music, and August discovered a shofar in one of his instrument cases.
Since it was the month of Elul, which precedes the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, she told Ira about the hallowed tradition of blowing the shofar each day of that month.
She also talked about some of the shofar's symbolism.What a wonderful gift to give someone at the end of their life, an opportunity to learn and perform a mitzvah and to discover new meaning in life.
One of them is that when a shofar sounds, it blasts through the boundaries between this world and the next; even though Ira had trouble breathing, he blew the shofar each day of Elul until he fell into a coma and died at the end of October.
August...said this activity was meaningful for Ira and gave him something to do when he no longer had the energy for his many interests. This, she said, reflects the importance of hospice care in enhancing the quality of a patient's life.
"A Beginning in Understanding Hospice Care"
May 02, 2012
by Lynne Blumberg