For a few years I have been advocating the need for congregations to make sure they create programs that educate congregants and community on issues related to end of life care from a Jewish point of view. The rise in interest, driven I am sure by Boomers need for and desire to control our own aging, has made these conversations even more important. It is great to see what happens when a congregation does take up the challenge.
Sunday March 15, Temple Judea of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, created a 1/2 day seminar entitled “Conversations That Matter”. The event ran from 1pm until 4pm and was preceeded by a resource fair at which people were invited to examine local resources that ranged from assisted living facilities to medical help to funeral planning. The afternoon was divided between a keynote on the changing face of aging and the impact of the longevity revolution. There followed two rounds of workshops that covered such diverse issues as Jewish approaches to end of life decision making, Jewish views of Afterlife, financial and legal issues, funeral rites and arrangements, medicaid and insurance, elder living options, and a session on memory issues. The workshops were followed by an intra-denominational panel discussing the views regarding cremation and the day ended with a brief, but moving “healing” service led by the cantor. Over 100 people were in attendance for the entire program.
This was an powerful afternoon during which significant information was delivered. The questions and discussions often reflected personal needs and stories. I mention this program because I am convinced that similar types of programs, on an annual basis, are essential in this day and age. Our people are asking for serious adult conversations on issues that they are dealing with. The power of having these issues raised within a group, and within the synagogue, allows for a sense of shared community and elevates the discussion, I feel, to the sacred. I hope that your congregation or organization can create something to inform, on a regular basis, your people. For information on this day, feel free to contact Temple Judea of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Rabbi Kapitulnik is the rabbi who organized the day. Feel free to also contact me if I can be help in developing these type programs for you.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min