Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Sean Baker Editor

William Forsman Photographer

Bryan Lund Reporter

Rabbi lends a listening ear to patients receiving care in Rochester

Rabbi lends a listening ear to patients receiving care in Rochester

Over the past century and a half, Mayo Clinic has evolved from a single hospital run by a small-town doctor and a group of Franciscan Sisters — to a robust medical practice serving patients from all 50 states and over 130 countries. To achieve this remarkable feat, Mayo has had to innovate and adapt. New technologies. New forms of treatment. New surgical techniques.

But as famed filmmaker Ken Burns points out in his documentary on Mayo Clinic, it's more than science that distinguishes the hospital from all the others. Faith and hope are also woven into the fabric of what makes Mayo a mecca for healing.

As we continue our exploration across the various touch-points patients have when traveling here, we stopped by Chabad-Lubavitch of Rochester, Minnesota to better understand how the local faith community contributes to the spiritual and emotional well-being of our most vulnerable visitors.


When visiting with patients, Rabbi David Greene provides what he describes as the "ministry of presence." That means offering comfort and conversation, in addition to spiritual guidance. Oftentimes, he says, patients are simply seeking a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.

“People have to come here, they are anxious enough. To find something that gives them less anxiety… and if it comes with a smile and it comes with a sense of hospitality... to be able to do that, it brings people together. That is what it is about — to be able to connect with people in that way."

To assist visitors during trying times, the organization provides a service it calls "Chabad on Call." Whether a patient is in the hospital or confined to their home, Chabad on Call offers an opportunity for Rabbi Greene and his family to meet the needs of the sick and the elderly.

“The Jewish people are one family," explains Rabbi Greene, "so this is a chance to be able to connect with them and say, 'here is your family.'"

Rabbi Greene notes that their outreach is not limited to the hospital. He will also meet with patients at a pub, in the café, or even in his home, which doubles as a worship space.

And their work to serve patients does not stop there. In addition to pastoral care, Chabad-Lubavitch also delivers Shabbat Boxes, which provide everything an individual needs to observe the holy day of Shabbat.

For Rabbi Greene, it's contributions like these — big and small — that help make Rochester a community of compassion.

“When you see the impact, and you recognize that, the only Jewish guilt will be that you don’t want to miss helping someone else."

This fall, Med City Beat is teaming up with students from the University of Minnesota Rochester to document the role the community plays in the care of the nearly 3 million patients and visitors who come here each year.

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