Arab Nurse Recites ‘Shema Yisrael’ Prayer for Jewish Patient Before He Dies of COVID-19
The Arab head nurse at the COVID-19 unit of Ha’emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel, recited the Hebrew “Shema Yisrael” prayer for a Jewish patient before he died of coronavirus, Israel Hayom reported Friday.
Ibrahim Maher treated coronavirus patient Shlomo Galster, a Hasidic resident of northern Israel, for more than a month at the hospital. On Thursday morning, Galster’s family was told that his condition was deteriorating and they needed to say their goodbyes.
When medical workers in the COVID-19 unit realized it was unlikely that Galster’s family would arrive in time to recite the prayer before his death, Maher decided to recite the Hebrew prayer for him.
“Shema Yisrael” is traditionally recited before one’s death.
“I knew he was a religious man and it was important to him that his family pray with him,” Maher, who was raised Muslim, 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.’ We knew him and his family. We were fond of him. We prayed with him, for his own sake and his family.”
Maher added, “It was clear to me that he wanted us to recite the ‘Shema’ prayer for him. We have one God.”
When Galster’s family finally arrived at the hospital, they knew that he had passed, Maher said.
“It was important to me that his daughter would know, and maybe it would console her and the family a bit that at least we managed to recite the ‘Shema,'” he said.
Galster’s daughter told the paper: “It was a difficult, sad day. My father never stopped talking about the devoted care he received and how thankful he was to Maher and the entire team.”