Hospice and Judaism
The following articles were originally published by 70 Faces Media and appeared as part of a series supported by MJHS Health System, 70/Faces Media and UJA-Federation of New York to raise awareness and facilitate conversations about end of life care in a Jewish context.
There are things you can do to bring comfort and joy to a person in hospice. We pulled together the following tips from the hospice nurses, social workers, and clergy at MJHS Health System.
The Torah is called Etz Chayim, a tree of life, because it provides values, ethics, and laws by which Jews are commanded to live. But how we die is also part of how we live. Below are some key examples from the Torah and what they teach us about dying.
Whether your reticence comes from anxiety, religious superstition, or fear of engaging with a morbid subject, experts advise everyone to consider these issues earlier rather than later. Some rabbis even encourage newly engaged couples to discuss advance care planning before their wedding and to revisit the topic when a child is born or around other lifecycle events. Read some tips on how to get this conversation going with your family members.
Conversations about end-of-life decisions are delicate, personal, and unique — and rarely, if ever, begun and completed in one sitting. One thing is sure, given the mobility of our society, the advances in medical technology, and the continuing cultural denial of death: The need for these conversations has never been more profound.
Traditionally, Jewish ethical wills contained several items, including burial instructions, debts and obligations to be paid, requests that family members carry on specific religious traditions, and blessings over the family. But modern ethical wills are less about accounting and instruction and more about imparting wisdom or wishes or simply reviewing one’s life.
Writing an ethical will can feel like an overwhelming process. How does one begin to summarize a lifetime of lessons and beliefs? Where should the focus of the message be? In this article you will find helpful exercise to help you on this journey.
Decisions concerning medical care in the final stages of life present a range of Jewish ethical and legal problems. While Jewish tradition maintains that human life is of infinite value and that its preservation overrides every other religious imperative, relieving pain and allowing for the soul’s peaceful departure are also well-established values. Learn More.
Patients are typically referred to hospice care when further medical treatment is not likely to reverse the course of their disease. The decision to choose hospice care is a personal one, as is the amount in which Jewish tradition informs one’s choices for end-of-life care. The following is a general overview of contemporary Jewish perspectives on the topic.
Navigating any stressful and significant situation requires effective communication and clear understanding. To help you better understand the various issues that may arise, both in a general and Jewish context, the list below explains the terms you are likely to encounter.