The burden and worry that so many of us seem to bear as we come closer to death struck more intensely this past January when I offered a eulogy at the funeral of my friend Debbie Friedman. Debbie contributed so significantly to Jewish worship renewal, and her prayers and songs are sung in every quarter of the world. Although no one had more reason to “rejoice in their portion,” insecurity and doubt about her contributions to life and their meaning plagued Debbie’s soul.
A “Letter” Exchange between Abby Caplin and Rachel Brodie, Healing Is Always Possible:
While confronting serious illness, unless a hospital chaplain appears (and not necessarily a Jewish one), the words and wisdom of Judaism are rarely brought into treatment and waiting rooms. “Healing services” are the most prominent form of Jewish ritual around illness, but there are other forms that address a variety of needs, moods, and comfort zones. Ancient ritual objects used for healing include amulets, stones, and a red string. Each of these items allows for symbolic transference by concretizing an abstract value such as love, power, or support.
Physicians have an obligation to ensure that parents understand the illness and prognosis of their child, to the best of their ability and medical knowledge. If a parent hopes for and expects a full recovery when one is essentially impossible, then the physician has failed in an essential duty.
Julie Pelc Adler
Prayers for healing can be transformative, even if only at the level of humanistic effectiveness—a prayer that helps people bond and feel comforted in the face of suffering. But I don’t think prayers are magic; I do not believe that prayers alone can heal, or necessarily compel God to heal us. For that matter, I don’t even believe that healing is necessarily a complete return to life as it was before the accident, illness, or disability. Healing requires coming to terms with life as it is now: life with struggle (and sometimes chronic pain or discomfort), and life with the memory of what came before. Healing requires work, strength, and courage.
“You prepare a table for me in the full presence of my enemies; You anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23: 5 I also understand the “cup” both as a reminder to be grateful for abundance, and also as a source of strength from which to draw when I feel most depleted.
Deborah Kram In the last years of his life, my paternal grandfather would repeat a particular teaching to each of his grandchildren whenever we talked with him. After his death, we realized this was not forgetful behavior on his part, but that he had left each of us with a special message. Mine was: Tefilah
Kate Alkarni I began painting furiously about nine years ago while in rehab for heroin addiction. I was 23 years old, and I had rediscovered a yen for art. Even strung out on heroin for five years, I hadn’t forgotten everything about myself or reality. Each painting I created that first year was unplanned —
Sharon Salzberg In Buddhist teaching, suffering isn’t considered redemptive. What is redemptive, and healing, is our transformed relationship to suffering. Each element of our experience provides its own challenges and opportunities for a new relationship. When we are in pain or distress, we can hold that pain in bitterness or in compassion, in isolation or
Michele Prince: There has been a recent explosion of attention to the field of pastoral care. Let’s start this discussion with a question about how best to train our future Jewish leaders to meet the needs of the community. What are the legitimate expectations of the community — of our synagogues and organizations — for