Passover is coming: March 25 to April 2, 2013 –

Passover is coming: March 25 to April 2, 2013 – background on this festival: Passover 2013

Helping people live until they die


Virginia Clark Weir is a clinical nurse who works out of the Freeman Centre for Palliative Care at North York General Hospital. The 13-year-old centre mostly provides medical and social work services to patients in their homes (but it also does so on a more limited, acute in-patient basis).


“Our role is to help people live until they die. We help them take control of their own lives,” Clark Weir said.


“We visited one gentleman for 2-1/2 years. He had complications, but with our involvement, together with his family’s support, we were able to help him a great deal,” she said.


“We can’t predict when [there is going to be a crisis], but we can always be called upon. We’re also there for the caregivers. It is often a devastating experience for them, and we try to focus on them as well.


“We try to help each patient and caregiver with the most ideal way to manage care.”

More here.

Can hospice be compatible with Judaism?

the jewish hospic manualAs the hospice movement flourishes, many in the Jewish community have hesitated to take advantage of its benefits, asking: Can hospice be compatible with Judaism?

The answer, says Barry M. Kinzbrunner, M.D., is yes. This is not just his opinion as an oncologist and chief medical officer for VITAS; Dr. Kinzbrunner also is an ordained Orthodox rabbi. He has written extensively on end-of-life care and Jewish medical ethics, including co-authoring The Jewish Hospice Manual with Rabbi Maurice Lamm, D.D., president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice (NIJH). His view is reflected in The Jewish Hospice Manual, a new publication now available in the Spiritual Care office for the use of our volunteers. A joint project of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice and Vitas, the manual was given to us by Vitas Jewish Community liaison Jeff Rosenberg,.

“From care of the sick to the mourning practices of those who are left behind, Judaism provides a profound way for its followers to mark the passing of a loved one, while still honoring life itself,” says Dr. Kinzbrunner. And trained hospice workers can aid Jewish patients and their families as they follow this ancient way, he says.

A large number of VITAS programs are accredited as Jewish Hospices by the NIJH. This means all program staff and volunteers have completed in-depth training covering the beliefs, customs, philosophies and ethics of both practicing and non-practicing Jews. Dr. Kinzbrunner and Joel S. Policzer, M.D., VITAS Vice President and National Medical Director, also have spoken extensively to Jewish clergy and lay groups to further their understanding of the value of hospice care.

More Jewish Resources on End of Life Issues

The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought
by Neil Gillman
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000
Combining scholarship with historical, theological and liturgical perspectives, traces the evolution of Jewish thought about bodily resurrection, spiritual immortality and relevance to life today.

Embracing Life & Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care
by Daniel Brenner, Tsvi Blanchard, Joseph Fins and Bradley Hirschfield
CLAL, 2002
Creates a dialogue between Jewish tradition and contemporary ethical and spiritual concerns facing today’s families—covering issues such as pain management, advance care planning and end of life ethics.

The National Institute for Jewish Hospice
Services include a 24 hour toll-free number that assists families, patients and caregivers and provides locations of hospices, hospitals, health professionals and clergy of all faiths. Also publishes information on issues such as truth telling and euthanasia; and provides insights into the “art of hoping,” techniques of caring and understanding pain.

Torah Reflection focues on the festival of Sukkot

This Torah Reflection focues on the festival of Sukkot.  This year Sukkot begins at sunset on Sunday, September 30th (full moon) and concludes with a day known as Shemini Atzeret on Monday, October 8th.

Community Rabbi Leslie On Spiritual Care of Jewish Patients

Community Rabbi Leslie Alexander helped our team of Los Gatos Spiritual Care Volunteers better understand how to care for our Jewish patients in the May Spiritual Care Seminar here. Among her practical suggestions:

If you are visiting a Jewish patient, ask:

  •  “Are you a member of a synagogue?” if so, ” Have clergy from you synagogue visited?” If not, ‘ Would you like me to request a visit?”
  • If you choose to offer prayer for a Jewish family, please remember many Jews are not comfortable with spontaneous prayer. One Biblical text Jews may know is Numbers 6:24-27: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Do not include mention of Jesus in prayers for Jewish patients or families.
  • Please understand not all Jews will feel comfortable with a non-Jewish chaplain. They may not have the energy to risk an encounter with someone who may try to convert them to a different faith or unintentionally cause discomfort. Some of our Jewish patients may have endured persecution in Russia or survived the holocaust, making them less comfortable in discussing their faith with a stranger. 

Rabbi Fenner introduces our volunteers to the Jewish Healing Center

Rabbi Natan Fenner, a board-certified chaplain who has been involved in Jewish healing since 1992, introduced our Spiritual Care volunteers to the work of the Jewish Healing Center this month.

 Speaking in our Mountain View campus, Rabbi Natan outlined how we can work together to provide our Jewish patients with the care and items they need to practice their traditions in this hospital.

 On Thursdays or Fridays and on the eve of JewishHoly Days these items should offered to patients or their families. We use electric candles due to the danger the open flame of a candle would pose in a health care setting. The Jewish Healing Center will provide our Spiritual Care offices with special items needed for High Holy Days.