health mind and body

Event at CitiField views health care with halachic eye


The venue — and the crowds — keep getting bigger.

Five Towns-based Achiezer moved its annual Jewish Healthcare Conference and Expo to CitiField last Sunday, drawing particpiants from throughout the metropolitican area for an event that featured 20 panel discussions and more than 60 exhibitors.

In a discussion on the “challenges of eldercare and halachca,” Rabbis Yaakov Bender and Tzvi Flaum touched on such questions as why we’re charmed by babies but not so much by old people (Hashem gave children a certain charm, otherwise we might not so readily take care of them), should we take our infirm parents into our homes (yes), and should we sign DNR (do not resuscitate) orders that our parents’ hospital or nursing home can keep on file (no).

There’s no question they should be brought to you in your house,” Rabbi Flaum said. “This is your golden opportunity to show them the hakarat hatov (appreciation) you have for all the years of love and compassion and mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) they showed to you.”

Kibbud av va em is not just showing respect for the parent, but maintaining the self-respect of the parent … because when a parent gets [help] from their own children, who they gave their life for, who they brought up … it’s a different type of kibbud and respect than if a stranger does it.”

If a parent is placed in an extended care facility, children must be diligent in selecting it and then be regular visitors — both to see to the parent’s needs and to insure that the staff knows the family cares, the rabbis agreed.

A DNR should never be causually signed, Rabbi Flaum cautioned, pointing out that it is not a health care proxy. “A standing DNR is not something that you give,” he said, cautioning that doing so sends a message to medical staff that you don’t care about the patient.

Another prominent rabbi, Dovid Cohen, participated in a discussion on the “challenges of special needs and halacha” that was moderated by Achiezer’s founder and president, Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender.