Shabbat in Hospital

If either you or a member of your family is in hospital over Shabbat, it can be problematic. Jewish Visiting do not generally visit patients on Shabbat, but if you are concerned about a member of your family we will ask if a member of the local synagogue can visit or try and arrange accommodation for you in the vicinity, where possible.

There are a number of hospitals which have “Shabbat or respite rooms” provided and stocked by Ezra Umarpeh.

These respite rooms in 9 hospitals across England are stocked with fresh hot and cold kosher food and drink, reading materials and warming facilities. Some are just open on Shabbat, some are open the whole week.

The hospitals that have this facility are:



Royal Free


Great Ormond Street

Royal London



North Manchester

South Manchester

Salford Royal

As well as this, Ezra Umarpeh’s “Home away from Home” accommodation provides accommodation within 3-4 minutes away from the hospital. Accommodation is available near both Royal Free and Homerton Hospitals and has to be booked. Occupancy rates for the accommodation over Shabbat and Jewish Holidays is always very high and they recommend you to call their office and make a booking as early as possible.

For more information, please go to their website below:

For those patients who are particularly concerned about the dos and don’ts of what to do if you happen to be in hospital in Shabbat, the leaflet called Shabbos in Hospital – A Practical Guide could be useful. Copies of this are available from Jewish Visiting or from Rabbi Jacobson at

Lighting candles on Shabbat

Many, mostly female, Jewish patients might like to like candles to mark the beginning of the Sabbath, on a Friday evening. Candles are lit at dusk, and therefore the time for lighting will vary. However given the potential risks involved, in most hospitals, it will not be possible to light wax candles. As an alternative one can either use electric battery lights or rely on the electric lights. To distinguish such light from the light that has been on during the day, one should turn off the lights, and then switch them on again with the intention that they are in honour of Shabbat. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the patient then recites the blessing for Shabbat lights or not.

Issues that may occur for some Jewish patients

There are some Jewish patients who will not want to operate electronic doors or switch lights on or off on the Sabbath.

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