Friday, August 21, 2009

In Support of "Death Panels"

No not really, but this Shabbat morning at services we'll be discussing the current health care issues, and yes, in a rational manner! No one knows where the "Death Panels" scare tactic originated in the midst of the current debate, but what's certain is that no group of bureaucrats should decide who shall live and who shall die. However, we all need to be focusing on end of life issues long before they become crises. Here are some good resources so that you can do your homework, without the government looking over your shoulder.

Jewish Law - Articles ("End of Life Choices in Halacha")
National Institute For Jewish Hospice
"When the Body Begins to Fail: Reaching Out in Prayer," (from Hiddur: The Center for Aging)

See some of the halachic discussions about end-life care that have taken place in the Conservative movement:

Avram Israel Reisner, "A Halakhic Ethic of Care for the Terminally Ill" YD 339:1.1990a
Elliot N. Dorff, "
A Jewish Approach to End-Stage Medical Care" YD 339:1.1990b
Avram Israel Reisner, "
Mai Beinaihu?" YD 339:1.1990c
Amy Eilberg, "
On Halakhic Approaches to Medical Care for the Terminally Ill: A Response" YD 339:1.1990d
Joel Roth, "
A Response to Rabbis Dorff and Reisner" YD 339:1.1990e
Aaron L. Mackler, ed., "
Jewish Medical Directives for Health Care" YD 339:1.1993

And if all this depressing talk is getting you down, why not download the Bikur Cholim Joke Book — A collection of humor compiled by the Rabbi Isaac N. Trainin Bikur Cholim Coordinating Council that will lighten your hearts and spirits. Bekur Holim (visiting the sick) is a fundamental mitzvah, and humor can be a tool to use for yourself or to enrich another person coping with sadness and loss.

Here's one example:

A Gabbai approaches a guest in the Shul and says, "I want to give you an Aliyah.
What is your name?"
The man says "Sara bat Moshe."
The Gabbai says "No I need your name."
The man repeats "It is Sara bat Moshe."
The Gabbai asks "How can that be your name?"
The man answers "I've been having serious financial problems so everything is in my wife's name."

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