Arab nurse recites Shema Yisrael prayer for dying Hasidic patient

The Shema Yisrael prayer is considered by many the most essential prayer in Judaism.

With the global death toll still rising, the coronavirus pandemic constantly reminds us of the fragility of life. But testing the human resolve on a daily basis, the pandemic also offers heart-warming stories from people who have put aside all else in order to focus on what really matters: Helping each other in times of need.

Head nurse at Ha’emek Medical Center‘s COVID-19 department, Ibrahim Maher, is one of those people.

An article first published by Israel Hayom on Friday described how Maher put all personal differences aside and stepped up to help a patient of his in his time of dying.

Maher had treated Shlomo Galster, a Hasidic man from northern Israel, for over a month, ever since he contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized at the Ha’emek Medical Center in Afula.

People get vaccinated at the Clalit vaccination center in Jerusalem, January 3, 2020.

Recently, Galster’s condition deteriorated and medical staff realized that his time was short.

The Shema Yisrael prayer is considered by many the most essential prayer in Judaism. It is traditionally recited on numerous occasions, including before one’s death.

Realizing that Galster’s family would probably not make it in time and recognizing the importance the prayer held for Galster as a religious man, Maher stepped up and offered to recite the prayer himself, despite not knowing its precise wording or doing anything like it before. Maher had grown up in a Muslim family.

But he knew that Galster wanted him to do it. “It was clear to me that he wanted us to recite the Shema prayer for him. We have one God,” Maher told Israel Hayom.

“I knew he was a religious man, and it was important to him that his family pray with him,” Maher told Israel Hayom. “I don’t know the entire prayer exactly, but I knew how important it was that he hear the words ‘Shema Yisrael’.

“When Galster’s family made it to the hospital, their pain was eased by knowing that their loved one had at least heard the prayer before passing, and thanked Maher for his unexpected act of kindness.

“My father never stopped talking about the devoted care he received and how thankful he was to Maher and the entire team,” Galster’s daughter told Israel Hayom.


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