Bikur Cholim: Visiting the Sick

The Talmud teaches that God came to visit Abraham in his time of recovery, and therefore we too are obligated to visit the sick in their time of need (Genesis 18 and BT Baba Metzia 86b.) From this, we learn the mitzvah of caring for and visiting the sick, bikur cholim.

“Caring Community” practices are those that help us each of us to feel truly known, cared about, supported and valued. They are based on the development of trusting, positive relationships in which we give and receive care, assistance and acknowledgment during the most difficult and sometimes even during the most wonderful moments in our lives. Hundreds of Reform congregations have developed Caring Community Programs and approaches centered on Jewish values which have transformed them into centers of belonging, mutual support, and friendship. Get started with our “Caring Community 101” guides.

Bikur Cholim programs remain the most popular way of introducing the Caring Community to a congregation. The program has evolved with the needs of the congregation continues to develop and change as and as hospital stays have shortened and new laws have been implemented (we advise congregations in the US to be aware of HIPPA laws.) A representative sample of a how to develop such a program is included in the URJ publication “Becoming a Kehillat Chesed: Creating and Sustaining a Caring Congregation.”

Encourage your congregation to practice the mitzvah of caring for and visiting the sick by developing visitation programs. Our suggested readings provide the necessary information for creating and maintaining such programs.
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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.

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