Letters week of May 4, 2006

JFCS Partnerships Serve the Needs of Patients

It is to be commended that the Jewish Exponent has taken on the important and sensitive subject matter of hospice care, and we applaud your efforts to educate the public about Jewish laws and customs regarding end-of-life issues (Cover Story: "Taking Great Care to Really Care," March 30).

At the same time, we would like to make the Jewish community aware of resources not addressed in your article.

The Joan Grossman Center for Chaplaincy and Healing of Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia has been providing chaplaincy services to Jews in hospice care for many years now.

We are committed to providing spiritual and emotional support to Jews and their loved ones at the end of life, to educating the community about the resources available to them, and to partnering with hospices committed to serving the Jewish community.

In the last year alone, the Jewish Hospice Program of JFCS has established working relationships with three hospice programs, forming the Jewish Hospice Network of Greater Philadelphia. These are: Abington Memorial Hospital Hospice and Home Health Services, the Hospice of Philadelphia of the Visiting Nurse Association, and Life Choice Hospice.

Our hospice chaplain, Rabbi Susan Falk, receives referrals from these programs and regularly attends the patient's clinical team meetings. In turn, our hospice partners receive educational sessions on Jewish customs and practices, particularly regarding illness, death and dying.

Additionally, twice a year, our Chaplaincy and Healing Program conducts specialized training for those who wish to volunteer as parachaplains in hospitals, nursing homes and other venues.

These volunteers serve as a vital link to the community.

Jack H. Dembow
President, CEO Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia


Center Offers Comfort to Patients and Families

Thank you for your article about hospice care (Cover Story: "Taking Great Care to Really Care," March 30).

At the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, elderly residents who are nearing the end of life also benefit from the center's own Palliative Care Program.

This program offers a full range of comfort measures to individuals who may not be appropriate for hospice care. Unlike hospice care, palliative care is not reimbursed by health-insurance companies when provided in the long-term-care setting. Therefore, we depend on the charitable support of our community to make this program possible.

Our Palliative Care Program is one of the first in the country that is nursing-home-based, and is recognized as a model for long-term care. Residents benefit from a broad range of pain-relief measures, including nonmedical interventions like music, massage, and aromatherapy; emotional support for residents and their family members; and pastoral care by our chaplaincy staff.

All of this is in addition to our residents' daily care.

By providing a range of options in end-of-life care, we are best able to meet the needs of the Jewish elders we serve.

Nancy Hodgson

Sheila Segal, BCC

Palliative Care Program
Abramson Center for Jewish Life North Wales


Silence on Iran Serves an Anti-Semitic Purpose

Jonathan Tobin makes an excellent point about the need to speak up about the perils of a nuclear Iran (A Matter of Opinion: "Shutting Up Won't Quiet Critics," April 20).

I can hear the Jew-haters already: "There they go again, more self-serving baloney from the 'Jewish Lobby.' Trying to get America to fight their battles for them."

Out of fear of being associated with the evil 'Lobby,' Jews will shut up, thus making it easier for those set on destroying Israel to do so.

The current situation with Iran reminds me of World War II, when Jews were urged not to make a big issue out of the Holocaust because it was believed that such advocacy would stir up the anti-Semites.

Thanks to the Jewish Exponent for not keeping silent.

Mark Mazer


Violence in Darfur: Not an Issue of Our Concern

Has the liberal side of Judaism gone nuts? I ran into someone pushing the Darfur protest and got curious enough to do an Internet search (City & Suburb: "Crying 'Never Again,' Groups Plan to Rally Against Genocide in Darfur," April 20).

The Darfur crisis started after the long civil war between north and south Sudan (Muslim vs. native African cultures). It was started by protesting tribes in the region – the ones hit hard by the other tribes sponsored by the government of Sudan, which didn't have troops left because of the civil war. Both sets of tribes are Muslim.

There is no genocide, only tribal wars, with the stronger pushing out the weaker using what is now called "ethnic cleansing." The world is full of similar small wars, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

History proves that it far better to stay out of such conflicts, since they eventually burn themselves out.

But the liberal Jewish reaction with demonstrations and busloads of Jews marching on Washington is just crazy.

Imagine if in the 1930s, the American Jews had ignored what was going on in Germany, and instead protested what the Italians were doing to the Ethiopians.

We live in a time of rising anti-Semitism. As a small group, our efforts should focus on solidarity with the Jews of Europe, who suffer constant attacks, and with Israel.

Henry Lazarus



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