In traditional Jewish practice, it is customary to say a prayer during Shabbat (Sabbath) morning services on Saturdays for friends and family who are seriously ill, and to name them specifically during the prayer. The prayer is known as a “Misheberach L’cholim” (“blessing for the sick”) or “Misheberach” for short (with the ch’s pronounced like in the Jewish holiday of Chanukah). In Hebrew, the word for someone who is sick is “choleh” (with the “o” rhyming with “go”). The plural is “cholim”. In some Shuls (synagogues), the Misheberach prayer is recited in unison by the entire congregation, and where it says “(insert names here)”, each person quietly recites the names of his/her loved ones (and friends or neighbors) who are ill. After everyone has recited their list of cholim, the congregation continues the Misheberach in unison to its conclusion.

In most congregations, however, the prayer is recited only by the Gabbai (pronounced “GAH-bye”) or sexton (for lack of a better term). As the Gabbai begins the Misheberach prayer, congregants line up near him to verbally submit names at the “insert name here” point, which he then repeats immediately as part of the prayer in an on-the-fly manner. Some congregants submit the names of their cholim to the Gabbai in writing in advance (before the Sabbath begins), especially if the choleh has a long-term illness, so that he/she (i.e. the congregant) doesn’t have to line up each week.

It is the “in writing” situation that is the purpose of this project. I am the Gabbai in my synagogue and for years, we had many instances where when the loved one of a congregant got sick or injured (thereby becoming a choleh), the congregant submitted his/her name to me in writing for use in the Misheberach. However, he/she usually forgot to periodically update me on the choleh’s status. The list kept getting longer and longer, and for all I knew, many of the perpetually-listed names (for whose recovery I was praying) had long since either passed on or fully recovered. In either event, it was no longer appropriate to include them in the Misheberach L’cholim. But since we rarely tracked who submitted a name (or when), we had no way of checking.

In the Misheberach prayer, each choleh’s name is structured as:

[choleh’s Hebrew name] “Ben”/“Bat” [choleh’s MOTHER’s Hebrew name]

“Ben” (son of) is used for male cholim and “Bat” (daughter of) is used for female cholim. "Bat" is pronounced "Baht".

So let’s say, for example, that "Dovid", the son of Moshe and Devorah, gets sick. His name used in the Misheberach would be “Dovid Ben Devorah”. If he has a sister named Rivka, and she gets sick, her name would be read as “Rivka Bat Devorah”.

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