Why do we need Jewish Visiting?

Our aim is to ensure that anyone who says they are Jewish and is in hospital can, if they so wish, be visited by either a Jewish Chaplain or a Jewish Visitor. We also provide information on Jewish religious and cultural practices that can help staff in looking after Jewish patients

What does Jewish Visiting do?

  • Organises the recruitment, selection, training and development, mentoring, support and authorisation of Jewish chaplains and Jewish visitors
  • Provides chaplaincy services in and around 100 hospitals in London and the Home Counties.
  • Maintains a list of chaplains and visitors who have been authorised to provide services to the NHS in the Greater London area
  • Provides a contact point which patients and/or their families can use to request a visit or advice


What is the difference between a chaplain and a visitor?

A chaplain is part of the spiritual health care or chaplaincy team which provides for the pastoral, spiritual, ethical, cultural and religious needs of patients, their families, staff and visitors. They generally (but not always) have rabbinic training and their role is to be the religious lead of their own faith community. Chaplains will act as an advocate for staff and patients and visitors from their own religious and cultural group and will advise on all spiritual aspects of bereavement. They are appointed by specific hospitals, but have to be endorsed by their faith community as an appropriate person to perform this role. Most chaplains provide an out of hours service to support patients in emergency or life and death situations. Chaplains often both provide information/training sessions for staff on meeting the needs of the Jewish patient as well as leading on activities for patients and staff to mark the Jewish festivals.

A visitor may also be part of the spiritual health care or chaplaincy team and they also aim to meet the spiritual, ethical, cultural and religious needs primarily of patients, but also of patients’ families and staff. Visitors are generally lay members of the community. To be an accredited Jewish Visitor, visitors also have to be endorsed by Jewish Visiting as well as the specific hospital in which they work. All visitors are there on a voluntary basis only. They generally visit on a set day each week or month.

Both chaplains and visitors may advocate on behalf of Jewish patients when required and give them information on support available outside the hospital, where appropriate.

For Jewish patients

Why do I need to contact Jewish Visiting to ask for a visit?

Many patients think that if they register as Jewish when they are admitted to hospital, they will automatically be visited by a Jewish chaplain or visitor. This is often not the case, mainly because this information is frequently not shared as it is thought to be in breach of the Data Protection Legislation.

Do you visit everyone who is in hospital?

This service is offered primarily to adults. We try to offer the service to patients who have mental health problems, when possible. When patients are in isolation rooms, it is not usually possible to visit them. For patients who are in intensive care units, visitors and chaplains will only go in at their express request.

I am not a religious Jew. Will this service be of any value to me? Will they try and make me become religious?

Jewish Visiting is here to help anyone who is in hospital who says they are Jewish. You can be a member of any synagogue or none. Our chaplains and visitors take their lead from you. If you want to talk about religious or spiritual matters, then they will engage with you on those subjects. If you wish just to chat about more general subjects, both personal and not, that is absolutely fine. It is entirely up to you.

I have got friends and family who come to visit me so why do I need Jewish Visiting?

If you have got plenty of people around you who can support you, then you might not need anything from us. However there are patients who either do not have family or friends or who do have them, but they don’t live in the area so they can only visit infrequently. Sometimes patients welcome the opportunity to talk to someone who is not emotionally involved with them and it gives them a time “to get things off their chest”

How do I know if there is a Jewish chaplain or visitor at the hospital where I am a patient?

You can either

  • Ask the staff at the hospital
  • Contact Jewish Visiting ( Even if it is not a hospital where we regularly visit, we will try and arrange for you to be visited whenever possible)


How long will they spend with me?

It varies from patient to patient, depending on what the individual wants, how many patients the visitor or chaplain needs to see, how long they can spend at the hospital. There is no set time for a visit.

What happens if I am asleep or I am having a procedure when the chaplain or visitor comes to see me?

Generally they will leave one of our Jewish Visiting cards with our telephone no and e-mail address on it so you can let us know if you would like them to visit you next time they are in the hospital.

How do I know that they won’t tell other people they meet that they saw me in hospital?

Jewish chaplains and visitors receive training from both Jewish Visiting and the hospital where they visit. Both will stress that is it absolutely vital that any information they become aware of as a result of their visit is strictly confidential and not to be shared with anyone, unless it is as the patient’s request

Will they ask me why I am in hospital?

No. It is entirely up to you whether or not you wish to share this information or not, but you are under no obligation to do so.

What happens if I don’t feel like talking when the chaplain comes?

If you don’t want to talk when you are visited, then just say so. They are there for your benefit not the other way round, so if you want to be quiet, that’s fine.

For hospital staff

I have a number of Jewish patients on my ward but I am not sure to care for them taking into account their religious values. How can Jewish Visiting help me?

This website includes information on the basic rules of Judaism, medical-ethical issues, factors around childbirth, end of life issues and what to do when a patient dies, the dietary laws and information on the Sabbath and festivals.

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