Rabbis at Calvary discuss end-of-life decisions


Calvary Hospital, in collaboration with the National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK), hosted a forum on “Halachic End-of-life Care: Practical Information Every Community Rabbi Should Know.” The objective was to educate people on the complex issues surrounding end-of-life (EOL) care under Jewish law, so that people can make the right decisions for their families.

The Dec. 17 event attracted rabbis, doctors, social workers and rabbinical students from throughout the New York area, including attendees from Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Vaad Harabonim of Queens, Chabad Care, Daughters of Israel, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie, the Young Israels of Fort Lee, Kew Gardens Hills, Monsey, Wesley Hills, and other organizations.

The program featured presentations by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, founder of NASCK; Rabbi Mordechai Willig, rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva University; Christopher C. Comfort, MD, medical director, Calvary Hospital; and Tony Susi ACSW, ACHP-SW, director of supportive services, Calvary Hospital Hospice Program.

Participants learned about EOL care in accordance with halacha; essential medical terminology for EOL decisions; Calvary’s Home Hospice; and the Hospital’s Dawn Greene Hospice in Manhattan. They visited Calvary’s Shabbos Lounge and Kosher Hospitality Room; and learned about its 116-year history of caring for Jewish patients, from Michael J. Brescia, MD, Executive Medical Director.

Three rabbis care for hundreds of Jewish inpatients and home hospice patients at Calvary each year. In addition to kosher food upon request, Jewish inpatients and their families can expect a daily visit from a rabbi, food from an expanded kosher hospitality room, dedicated Shabbos lounge, Kabbalat Shabbat service, and celebrations of all major holidays.  Calvary Hospital is part of the Pelham Parkway eruv.

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