JEWISH ETHICS AND THE CARE OF END-OF-LIFE PATIENTS: A Collection of Rabbinical, Bioethical, Philosop

JEWISH ETHICS AND THE CARE OF END-OF-LIFE PATIENTS: A Collection of Rabbinical, Bioethical, Philosop
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    JEWISH ETHICS AND THE CARE OF END-OF-LIFE PATIENTS: A Collection of Rabbinical, Bioethical, Philosop

    Edited by Peter Joel Hurwitz, Jacques Picard, Avraham Steinberg

    Hardcover, 254 pages
    KTAV Publishing House, Urim Publications, 2006
    ISBN: 978-088-125-921-6

    Appearing on the heels of the much-publicized Terri Schiavo case, Jewish Ethics and the Care of End-of-Life Patients offers a comprehensive compendium of opinions concerning our right to life, the quality of life and the meaning of life itself. Concerning itself with such topics as assisted death versus assisted suicide; terminal illness in children; empathy towards the incurably ill; and all manner of issues, laws and attitudes about death and dying, the book is an indispensable companion for the professional or layperson, in short, anyone and everyone who is interested in the passage from life to death.

    Consisting of chapters written by such respected authorities as Maurice Lamm, J. David Bleich, Vardit Ravitsky, Shimon Glick and Avraham Steinberg, Jewish Ethics and the Care of End-of-Life Patients is relevant and required reading for a broad swath of the general public.

    Representing a variety of views and religious orientations, the book's potential to bridge disparate communities is also invaluable. Informative yet accessible, the book can function both as a support for the individual or family faced with the imminent loss of a loved one and as the catalyst for important discussion and debate within a religious, medical or academic setting.
    Jewish Ethics and the Care of End-of-Life Patients is that rare book that invites its readers to enter into a relationship with its subject matter, whose relevance cannot be denied. "End of life care and the right to die with dignity have become two of the most controversial issues in bioethics in recent years," writes Vardit Ravitsky in her chapter, 'Dying with Dignity in a Jewish-Democratic State'. "While many questions about biomedical technology seem to be futuristic or esoteric, end-of-life questions touch on the lives of everyone."

    Praise for Jewish Ethics and Care of End-of-Life Patients:
    "Ethical dilemmas multiply as medical advances intensify the complexity of decision making at the end of life. A basic issue often arises from the conflict between two highly esteemed values: reverence for life and patients' right to self-determination. This collection of essays tries to address the Jewish approach to such problems. Steinberg, an Israeli physician and ethicist, chaired a 59-member committee that worked from 2000 to 2002 to produce a law regulating the care of dying patients in Israel. The law was enacted in 2005. Steinberg's description of the committee's work, its report and the actual law are the most useful parts of the book. His contributions detail an approach that carefully tried to codify into law a significant version of the Jewish view of death and dying. Lack of consensus on the subject from biblical and Talmudic times to the present made the task difficult. Disagreement is amply documented in the book's other essays that offer different Jewish perspectives on such knotty subjects as assisted suicide, euthanasia, death on demand and the withholding or withdrawal of treatment. Despite the unevenness of the presentations, the anthology sheds useful light on a subject that is of universal concern."
    - Publishers Weekly

    "Editor Hurwitz points out in the book's introduction that Jewish law--based on the Torah and the Talmud--determines the behavior of the individual in all the activities of daily life and that the saving of human life has a high priority. In order to save a life, a Jew must transgress all but three of the commandments of the Torah. On the other hand, Jews are commanded to prevent or to alleviate severe suffering. One may not hasten the onset of death, yet one may not delay it when it is imminent. This compilation consists of 11 chapters by respected scholars representing a variety of views and religious orientations, and its intended audience is general readers. Such concepts as the sanctity and quality of life, human dignity, autonomy, suicide, assisted suicide, and termination of life on demand are discussed and defined. Hurwitz posits that "it is our intention to show that Judaism, despite being so strongly determined by laws, still allows for many different and sometimes even opposing viewpoints." This insightful book does that judiciously."
    - George Cohen, Booklist