Tradition & Innovation
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Preparing for Death

Jewish law is adamant that a dying person is treated with the same respect due any living person. The mitzvah of visiting the sick is of great importance and it is a privilege and an honor to sit with a dying person, offer comfort, and ease her through this passage. To be presentto listen, to touch, to accept, to apologize, to forgiveare all invaluable gifts to one who is preparing for death and probably to oneself as well. Many Jews throughout history have written ethical wills, sharing the sum of their life’s learning with their descendants. It is also traditional to say a final confession, or vidui, as the end of life approaches. Today, given medical advances, end-of-life issues have assumed greater importance. Jewish tradition forbids hastening death and at the same time permits removing impediments to death. Knowing whether removing life support constitutes one or the other is a decision best made with medical experts, family members, and spiritual guides.


She is Pure

By Rabbi Me'irah Iliinsky
My first Taharah, ritual purification, was a trial of courage for me. I stepped in with little preparation, and it was new to me. We met as the sun was going down, to prepare the ...  more
Blog Post | July 15, 2014

Making Connections in Life's Final Moments

By Rabbi Natan Fenner
It is an incredible and humbling privilege to sit with people who are dying.  Communication tends to be very different—colored by the awareness of life's ebbing and often constrained (though...  more
Blog Post | February 5, 2013

Tags: vidui

A Prayer of Trust

By Navah C. Harlow
A prayer to be said on carrying out the request of a dying parent to remove life support   more