End of Life

End of life issues can be difficult to face, whether you simply wish to explore subjects like advance directives for health care, or, more so, if you or a loved one are struggling with health problems. By providing resources and encouraging dialogue about illness, death, and the quality of end of life, we hope to make Rodeph Sholom a place where people feel comfortable and safe addressing these difficult subjects.

Through the generosity of a grant received from the Jewish Healing and Hospice Alliance of UJA – Federation of New York and the Jewish Board Of Family and Children’s Services, we have been given the opportunity to create both an online resource center and a physical library to provide information as well as consolation. Although the inclusion of a website does not imply an endorsement of its contents, these sites seemed particularly user-friendly and wide-ranging. We hope that you will find them helpful.

Our resource center is on the 4th floor of the Synagogue building, located in a beautiful bookcase which contains a wide variety of books, articles, videos, and related materials. Congregants may browse through these on site or may feel free to borrow them.

Under the aegis of the Caring Community (gro.cynsrcnull@ytinummocgnirac), support groups and individual counseling with the congregation’s social worker are available throughout the year. Most important, please know that Rodeph Sholom’s clergy are always available to lend spiritual and practical support to every congregant.

If you are interested in learning more about our congregational cemetery, Union Field Cemetery, please click here.

Preparation and Consolation:  A Jewish Guide to the End of Life
This booklet has been prepared by Rodeph Sholom to help each of us become more comfortable thinking and talking about death, and more knowledgeable about the life-affirming wisdom of our Jewish tradition.


Advanced Directives

We think one of the most important elements of end of life care is the health care proxy, and we urge you to complete one and then discuss it with those closest to you.  A health care proxy form, tailored for New York State requirements, can be downloaded here. Follow this link for an informational FAQ regarding Advance Directives.

For more information about Advance Directives, please look at the following sites:

Office of the Attorney General, New York State, Health Care Bureau:
Forms and information relating to the Health Care Proxy in New York State:
Comprehensive information booklet about advance directives in New York State:  www.oag.state.ny.us/bureaus/health_care/pdfs/EOLGUIDE.pdf

New York Legal Assistance Group:  This site contains the total TLC forms packet which includes the health care proxy, living will, and US Living Will Registry forms.

Comfort and Support for Those Who Are Seriously Ill

The Jewish Healing and Hospice Alliance of UJA-Federation of New York:
When faced with a diagnosis of advanced illness, it can be difficult to focus on the many choices that need to be made.  UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Healing and Hospice Alliance provides simple, streamlined access to quality care with an integrated network of knowledgeable and compassionate resources, including: information and referral services; practical assistance and advocacy; Jewish spiritual and pastoral guidance; individual, family, and group support; connections to hospice care; and bereavement counseling.

Shira Ruskay Center – Providing Comfort and Support for the Seriously Ill
The Shira Ruskay Center assists seriously ill patients, their families and loved ones with navigating the complex and often chaotic health and social service systems, thereby enabling access to better and more comprehensive care.

Telephone or in-person consultation is available.  Information and assistance as well as psychological, social and spiritual support is provided.

The “Doula to Accompany and Comfort” Program
The Doula to Accompany and Comfort Program trains volunteers who provide companionship and comfort for people whose life expectancy is 18 months or less, in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and at home. Doulas serve those who have limited support from family and friends; working with one person at a time, Doulas can minimize the sense of isolation, provide emotional comfort, assist with practical concerns and advocate on behalf of people with life limiting illness.

The National Center for Jewish Healing
Jewish healing programs, services, and materials creatively use traditional Jewish resources, psychological insights, mind/body wellness practices, and an understanding of the healing power of community to fortify coping, nurture hope and foster connection.  Programs addressing serious illness and end of life include:  Jewish spiritual support groups, spiritual counseling, healing holiday programs and services, and resource materials.

Rabbi Isaac N. Trainin Bikur Cholim Coordinating Council
The tradition of bikur cholim, Hebrew for “visiting the sick,” is an imperative to visit and support the needs of those who are ill or isolated. Visiting those in need brings comfort and reinforces connections to life. Support for Bikur Cholim activities are provided by consulting, training volunteers, and providing materials, workshops and an annual NYC conference for organizations and interested individuals.

Necessary Conversations

American Bar Association
This is a user-friendly toolkit covering multiple end-of-life issues.  Click on Tool #6, Conversation Scripts, for 2 pages of clear and concise suggestions for how to begin and carry on a discussion of your personal and medical preferences with family and those close to you.

NHPCO/National Hospice Foundation
Click on ‘Voice’ for links to in-depth guides for effective communication of your personal and medical preference decisions to family, friends and health care providers.  This page includes a glossary.

The East Side Council on the Aging
The purpose of ESCOTA (The East Side Council on the Aging) is to encourage the coordination and expansion of health, legal and other life enhancing services to older adults in order to improve their lives through educating service providers to current problems and their solutions.

Legal and Financial Planning

American Bar Association
On the left side, click on ” Public Resources ” and under “Legal Topics” click on
“Estate Planning, Wills Probate, Trusts.”  This site includes the most detailed and best information about the technical aspects of this planning.  It includes resources for wills, power of attorney, trusts, living wills, Health Care Proxies, life insurance and guardianship.

Hospice / Palliative Care

UJA-Federation of New York’s Mollie and Jack Zicklin Jewish Hospice Residence
The hospice is a New York State-certified residential facility under Jewish auspices. Patients who spend their final weeks or months here receive 24-hour medical and nursing attention; the company of well-trained, caring Jewish volunteers; and the opportunity to find meaning in life for as long as possible.  The hospice’s kosher kitchen observes all Jewish dietary laws. There is a rabbi on staff and available to provide, upon request, spiritual enrichment, pastoral counseling, or companionable conversation. Jewish holidays are observed, and all staff members are sensitive to Jewish religious and cultural preferences.

This site featuring Bill and Judith Moyers provides much information and many links.  Diane Meier Director, of the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is featured with an audio presentation.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
This site offers discussions concerning hospice and offers a toll-free helpline.  It also offers guidelines and advice for making this difficult choice.

NHPCO/National Hospice Foundation
Click on “Advance Directives” for free state-specific advance directive documents, explanations and frequently asked questions about palliative care, choosing hospice, and other relevant information.

Ethical Wills

Ethical Wills
This site has basic explanations of why and how to write an ethical will with examples for every age group.  Click on the following links: What’s in an ethical will? Why write an ethical will? When would I write one? How to write an ethical will.

This is an historical analysis of ancient ethical wills.

The Teaching of Writing an Ethical Will
Sensitive sharing of a rabbi’s attempt to teach the writing of an ethical will. This site includes excerpts from historical, current and personal ethical wills.

Caregiving and Care for Caregivers

Click on “Family, Home and Legal ” and on following page click on “Caregiving.” This page offers advice on how to involve the whole family in caregiving.

Family Care
Many excellent referrals for resources are listed on this site.

Visiting Nurse Service of NY
Click on “Services” to arrive at the area of this site which provides helpers and advice for families in need.

“Sandwich Generation”

Financial Literacy
From homepage, click Sandwich Generation for information on: budgeting, health care, insurance, housing, and longterm care. Also click “Life Crises” for more related information.

Grief and Healing

Hospice Net
The section on “Bereavement” contains articles about the grieving process and a section on children, which offers guides for helping young children and teenagers.

Not for seniors only, the Grief and Loss section in the Family, Home and Legal area of the AARP website covers a broad range of topics, with thumbnail descriptions to direct your search. There are articles that specifically address sudden or traumatic loss, and the loss of a child.

Compassionate Friends
Primarily a national network of support groups comprised of parents mourning the loss of a child , this website provides contact information for its regional chapters. In the “Sibling Resources” area, there are excellent articles for older children and adults who are grieving the death of a sibling.