Jewish patients: End of Life practices

  1. This is not meant to be offensive but a serious question. Not to generalize, but in my experience, why do Jewish families agree to all and any extreme measures to preserve life even in the face of obvious suffering of the patient. A coworker told me it's because they don't believe in heaven and earth is all there is, but I did research and that's incorrect. I just want to know because I've never had a devout Jewish patient who was made a DNR.
    Okay guys now blast me for being ignorant....'Go
    Last edit by traumaRUs on Sep 10, '11 : Reason: Publicly arguing with staff actions.
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    About Girlygirl69

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 93; Likes: 138


  3. by   xtxrn
    Try this

    BTW, I entered "Jewish views on end of life" and this came up
  4. by   Kooky Korky
    Jewish people vary from being atheist to Orthodox and several stations in between.

    I don't know why your experience has been what is has, but I think you are wise to be curious and want to learn. You might want to talk with various rabbis for their knowledge. Just find local Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Progressive, Messianic (Jews for Jesus, for example), Hasidic and any other categories of Jews and ask for an appointment with the rabbis of these groups.

    Perhaps they will be a little wary at first, but I think most will be delighted to explain, inform, and dialogue with you. Some might invite you to services or congregational activities so you can meet more Jewish people and get wider views.

    Bless you for being interested in learning all that you can. I'm not sure that you can necessarily say that end of life decisions are determined by religion. Maybe there are other factors at work - relationships, guilt, fear of being widowed or orphaned, etc.

    BTW, I know Jews who are Buddhist, atheist, Orthodox, Conservative, Hasidic, and Reform. Some definitely do not believe in an afterlife or even in God. Others observe Kashruth (keeping Kosher) and many other laws and rituals and they do believe in Heaven and Hell and in being inscribed in the Book of Life or not on Rosh ha Shana and Yom Kippur, which are coming up very soon.
    Last edit by Kooky Korky on Sep 10, '11
  5. by   merlee
    As a Jew, I can tell you that only some Jews feel that way. We did not go that route with anyone in my family. We made my Dad comfortable in his last few days, not going the 'do everything' route at all. My mom and brother both died unexpectedly at home, both with a few days of a hospitalization.

    It is true that we revere life, but individual families make personal decisions about end-of-life issues.

    So do all families, regardless of religion.
  6. by   evolvingrn
    EOL issues vary so much within religions. I take care of lots of catholics and that also has a large amount of variation. We had a pt that wanted to discontinue her insulin (labile diabetic) but kept changing her mind for months finally the bishop came in and told her it was okay and a relatively stable pt died with 24 hours. A new bishop is in town now and he is more conservative so we have families that are giving their aspirating , dying family members water despite education because their 'religion requires it" ect...

    My husband is very very close with a elderly jewish man and he did comfort cares with is wife and considered hospice. he comes to dinner at our house and often talks with admiration about the job i do.... i think it will vary from person to person.
  7. by   Joyfull77
    I work in a Jewish Facility and a lot of the residents are DNR. One thing that is very important to them is pain management, and not dying in pain. Most of the families I have dealt with when their family member is dying is that they actually desire for them to go sooner then later if they are in pain. And I think that many of our residents choose DNR so that they won't have to be brought back in fear of being in pain.
  8. by   NoFlorenceRN
    You say that you aren't generalizing, but I beg to differ. Based on the responses thus far, I venture to say that you haven't done your homework. I am not Jewish, but if I were, I think that I would be a little bit offended by your post.
  9. by   nursejoed
    Quote from NoFlorenceRN
    You say that you aren't generalizing, but I beg to differ. Based on the responses thus far, I venture to say that you haven't done your homework. I am not Jewish, but if I were, I think that I would be a little bit offended by your post.

    And so it begins. Funny the self-identified Jewish responders weren't offended...
  10. by   FLmomof5
    +1 on the previous post.
  11. by   traumaRUs
    As with all religious threads, we have found that making general statements is sure to add fuel to the fire. Many people, regardless of their religious convictions, have varied views on EOL care.

    So it goes.

    In the end it's best just to ask what their views, wishes are and take it from there.
  12. by   merlee
    I was not offended by this question, just a little saddened by the generalization. I have worked in some Christian-based hospitals and have tried to NOT make any judgements based on religion.

    Each and every family must come to terms with their own decisions about EOL.

    Religion plays only a PART of this decision.
  13. by   Hospice Nurse LPN
    Kudos to you, OP for asking! I've asked members (and religious leaders) of religions diferent from my own about their views on death and EOL. I think it's important to know any rituals that are to be done at the time of death. I've never had anyone offended by my questions, they are usually happy to answer.
  14. by   Girlygirl69
    Here we go, thanks to everyone for giving me valuable info. Its easier to care for patients when you understand where they're coming from. Like I learned that a woman should not care for a male patient. I would have never known that if I didn't ask. On my unit when we have a rabbi on our ICU we try our hardest to give him a male RN. I know that every Jew is different. I've been nervous to to ask the rabbi questions because I usually see him during a bad time and I sometimes feel it's an inappropriate time to be asking questions