Cedars-Sinai Blog

Why Does a Jewish Hospital Celebrate Christmas?

Hanukkah, Candle Lighting, Ceremony

Rabbi Jason Weiner prepares to light a candle on the 4-foot metal menorah in honor of Hanukkah on Thursday, Dec. 14. Held in the Plaza Lobby, the candle lighting ceremonies during were broadcast to patient rooms on channel 50. Observed for eight nights and days, the Jewish holiday commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and is also known the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

At Cedars-Sinai, we believe healing involves the whole person—body, mind, and soul. That's why we offer a wide range of religious services through our Spiritual Care Department. While we're proud of our Jewish heritage, we welcome and embrace all faiths.

"As a faith-based institution, we believe that religion should be encouraged and enabled, but not forced," says Rabbi Jason Weiner, senior rabbi and manager of the Spiritual Care Department. "We want people to feel enabled to practice their faith in their own ways."

In addition to Jewish rabbis, Cedars-Sinai employs a variety of religious leaders, including chaplains of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, and Unitarian faiths.

Each of the chaplains acts as an integral part of our spiritual care team. Chaplains spend time with patients and their families, offering compassionate listening, prayer, and guidance during stressful times.

Christmas, holiday, concert, celebration

Cedars-Sinai employees performing the annual Christmas Concert.

Cedars-Sinai Diwali Celebration
Cedars-Sinai employees celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

In addition to a weekly schedule of diverse religious services, Cedars-Sinai celebrates holidays including Diwali, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, and many more.

"Part of being a Jewish hospital is that we want everyone to feel welcome," says Rabbi Weiner.

"Jewish hospitals were never only for Jews. Cedars-Sinai was created to make all people feel comfortable and welcome."

Historically, there were times when Jewish patients weren't always welcome at other religious hospitals and Jewish doctors and medical students were limited by quotas, or caps on how many could be hired or enrolled. Because of this, Jewish hospitals began opening across the country.

It's a common misconception, though, that these hospitals were established only for Jews.

"Jewish hospitals were never only for Jews," says Rabbi Weiner. "Cedars-Sinai was created to make all people feel comfortable and welcome."