Whenever someone requests that a loved one’s name be included in our Mi Sheberach list, we readily do so. Someone who is ill can feel isolated and cut off from others, unconnected to God’s healing presence. The Mi Sheberach can lift spirits, inspire confidence, and bring hope.
We respond to anyone’s request to include someone in our prayer for healing. But at what point should someone’s name be removed from the list? If someone is undergoing treatment for a serious illness, of course we continue our prayers. If we are informed that a loved one has recovered, we are delighted to no longer include that person’s name. Otherwise, an individual may be included for months, even years.
Reform congregations have addressed this matter in different ways. In one synagogue, they have a four-week time limit unless there is a long-term request. In another, they cull the names every few weeks so that people have to be more proactive if they want a name retained. One congregation has the practice of erasing the list every summer and notifying congregants that if they want names to be retained they need to re-apply.
There is no easy answer to addressing this sensitive subject.
What are your thoughts on the matter?