"A Conversation about End of Life Issues"

This panel discussion took place Sunday, August 29, 2010 at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA.  The panel lasted an hour and a half and the audio recording has been divided into three half hour sections:

The four members of the panel discussed end-of-life care issues facing us individually, as family and friends and as a community.  When faced with death approaching, many of us are unprepared to deal with the situation. We don’t know the right thing to do or say. We may inadvertently isolate loved ones and rob ourselves of precious opportunities. In addition to those emotional and spiritual issues, the panel discussed dilemmas concerning treatment, advance medical directives and medical powers of attorney, pain management, and other medical ethics issues that many of us face now or will face for ourselves or family members.



  • Dr. Jeff Burack, Medical Director of the East Bay AIDS Center, chair of the Ethics committee at Alta Bates Summit Medical center and  a practicing  AIDS physician for over 20 years. 
  • Chaplain Nicole Bloom, the Jewish Chaplain of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for the past 9 years. 
  • Professor Joanna Weinberg, teacher of law and health policy at  UCSF and Hastings Law School and  a member of the Alta Bates Ethics Committee at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.  She has lectured and conducted studies about advance medical directives and durable powers of attorney. 
  • Alison Jordan,RN, MFT,  formerly an oncology nurse, practices psychotherapy primarily with people facing life threatening illness. She is particularly interested in Jewish responses to illness, death, and loss, and teaches, consults, and writes about such topics as the Deathbed Confessional (Vidui) and end of life care. 



Suggested Books for more Information:

Note: There are a myriad of books on this subject and each of the following books offer an expanded bibliography.  This list is abbreviated to help you get started when you want more information. 


  • Dying Well, Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life; Ira Byock. M.D.
  • Guide to the Great Beyond, A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally For the End of Life; Jane Brody
  • Behoref Hayamim – A Values-Based Jewish Guide for Decision Making at the End of Life, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Center for Jewish Ethics
  • Healing into Life and Death; Stephen Levine
  • Jewish Ethics and the Care of End-of-Life Patients;  P. Hurwitz, J. Picard, A. Steinberg (editors)
  • So that your Values Live On - Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them;  Jack Reimer, Nathaniel Stampfer (editor)
  • Jewish Reflections on Death; ed. Jack Riemer (Includes essays that cover many issues we are trying to address)

Others submitted by Jeff Burack:

  • The Undertaking; Thomas Lynch
  • The Hour of our Death; Phillipe Aries
  • The Denial of Death; Ernest Becker