Embracing Life and Facing Death: A Continuing Education Course for Jewish Clergy and Doctors

The Center for Pastoral Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary is pleased to offer a new class dealing with end-of-life care issues, titled Embracing Life and Facing Death: A Continuing Education Course for Jewish Clergy and Doctors. Sponsored in collaboration with UJA-Federation of New York; Metropolitan Jewish Health System; Clal: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; and the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, the class aims to foster an understanding of palliative care from both the medical and spiritual perspectives. It will take place on six consecutive Monday evenings, beginning on May 16, 2011, from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m., and dinner will be provided.

The course, which is targeted toward physicians and ordained rabbis and cantors, focuses on the spiritual and ethical issues associated with end-of-life care. Its goal is to increase the positive influence clergy and physicians can have on families going through this difficult time. The curriculum will explore topics such as the "healing" duties of both clergy and physicians, the role of religion in health care, and understanding pain and suffering in a religious context. Rabbi Mychal Springer, director of the Center for Pastoral Education, says, "End-of-life issues affect everyone in our society. When clergy and doctors have deep knowledge and awareness of religious and medical dynamics at play, they are in a much stronger position to accompany those who are vulnerable at the end of their lives. This has the power to transform the dying process."

While the class is currently open only to clergy and physicians, due to strong interest from those in fields such as nursing and social work, enrollment may open up if space is available. As a continuing education course, it is not open to current students, but rather to professionals, on whose experiences the class will rely heavily. Mollie Cantor, supervisory education fellow at the Center for Pastoral Education, says, "Because the class emphasizes small group discussions, the students can bring their experiences to the conversation in unique ways."

The course will be taught jointly by three leaders from three different fields involved in the challenges of end-of-life care: Dr. David Kraemer, the Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS; Bernard Lee, MD, associate chief medical officer at MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care; and Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, director of Rabbis Without Borders and Clal.

Contact Mollie Cantor at mocantor@jtsa.edu or (212) 280-6004 for more information or to register.