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Music for the Difficult Moments

June 6, 2024
Care Today / Volunteers

At JSSA, we are honored to serve thousands of patients and clients every year in their moments of need. Our supportive and compassionate staff and volunteers have a personal call to do this vital work. Their care today supports strength for tomorrow. Here is one of their stories.

Not too long ago, a hospice patient asked Jodi Beder to play some Billy Joel.

Chuckling at the memory, Jodi said it’s not a common request when she visits patients at their bedside with her cello.

“I felt very special to be able to be there,” she said, describing her conversations and what she played for the 50-year-old the day before he passed away.  “Afterwards, of course, I thought about all the things I had wished I had played for him.”

Jodi has played music for individuals in hospice for decades, bringing her cello to private homes and facilities for what she describes are more like chaplain visits than performances.

“You’re in on something that’s one of the most important points of a family’s or an individual’s life.” Jodi said. “There’s nothing comparable.”

Volunteers Support Comprehensive Care

Jodi is one of dozens of volunteers working with JSSA’s Hospice program, serving individuals with life limiting illness across Montgomery County, Md. Volunteers provide a variety of support services, including writing cards, making phone calls to family members, working in the office providing PPE and administrative support, and visiting patients in their homes. Home visits may include music, pet visits, reiki/healing touch, hand massages, and companionship.

Jodi comes to JSSA’s Hospice from A Musical Heart, a non-profit based in Takoma Park, Md. A Musical Heart connects professional musicians with hospice programs in the region. Jodi said she matched with JSSA because of her experience playing in the Jewish community at various services and memorials. While many of the patients she visits are not Jewish, it has helped to be familiar with traditional Jewish and Yiddish music when they are.

Her visits tend to be an hour long, and often there are family members or caregivers present. Patients drive the music selections. Her focus is on them – even if they are hearing her play from another room.

“I would never tell somebody that it’s not hard,” Jodi said about playing music for hospice patients. “But it’s a special thing to be able to do.”

JSSA remains committed to ensuring hospice patients experience comfort, respect, and dignity in their final stage of life. We support physical, emotional, and practical end-of-life needs with compassion and cultural sensitivity. Our steady presence helps our neighbors and their loved ones experience quality of life even during this most difficult moment.

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