RABBI AVRAHAM STEINBERG…spoke at the Torah Links of South Jersey event. “Life is difficult, and the end-of-life is even more difficult,”
Professor Avraham Steinberg told the audience at the inaugural Torah Links of South Jersey Medical Ethics Seminar. Speaking July 6 at the Katz JCC, Steinberg outlined end-of-life issues as they exist in Israel, in Jewish law, and in countries throughout the world. A physician and rabbi, Steinberg chaired the committee that helped create Israel’s “Dying Patient Act” of 2005, the set of laws which govern end-of-life issues in Israel.
Steinberg’s wide-ranging talk touched on concepts from “quality of life” and “death with dignity” to “patient autonomy” and “advanced directives.” He said that the medical profession has made tremendous technological advances in the past 50 years and that doctors have many treatments available to them. The question, according to Steinberg, is when treatments such as use of a respirator, dialysis, or chemotherapy should continue to be used.
Gathered at the inaugural Torah Links Medical Ethics Seminar were (from left), Rabbi Yisroel Tzvi Serebrowski, director, Torah Links of South Jersey; Program Chair Dr. Gregg Bannett of Bannett Eye Centers, event sponsor; Israel Prize Laureate Prof. Avraham Steinberg, MD, featured speaker; Martin Bieber, CEO of event sponsor Kennedy Health Systems; Aryeh Swerdloff, CFO of event sponsor Cherry Hill Rehabilitation & Nursing Center; and Rabbi Yehuda Farber, CFO, Torah Links.
“Most halachic (Jewish legal) authorities recognize that life has an extremely important value, but not an absolute value,” said Steinberg, the author of a widely acclaimed encyclopedia of Jewish medical ethics. He said that the available technology does not have to be used in every case to add every single possible second to a person’s life. He said that one never hastens death, but one does not necessarily do everything to prolong it beyond a certain point.
Steinberg outlined some of the developments that have taken place over the past several decades in countries around the world, most notably Holland, that allow for active euthanasia, infanticide, physician assisted suicide, and withholding food and fluids. “None of these is halachically acceptable,” said Steinberg.
Israeli law allows competent patients to decide their courses of treatment, according to Steinberg. He added that Jewish law views an advanced medical directive as binding for dying patients. Steinberg noted that Israel maintains a central directory of medical directives that can be consulted from anywhere in the world, and that Israeli law requires that people confirm or change their existing medical directive every five years. Israelis receive a formal notification every five years to update their advanced medical directive.
Following his formal remarks, Steinberg took questions from the audience on issues such as aging, dementia, and the definition of death. He also sought to dispel the notion that organ donation is prohibited by Jewish law. He said that it is permitted, under certain limitations, because of the Jewish value of “Pikuach Nefesh” (saving a life).
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Published in the Jewish Community Voice
Educational Supplement 2011
The Shuster Family Torah Links Hebrew School: The Hebrew School Kids Don’t Want to Miss
When Naomi and Mike Tillinger suggested a family ski trip last winter, their 11-year-old son Harel turned them down, saying he didn’t want to miss Hebrew School. Here’s why Harel and his classmates at The Shuster Family Torah Links Hebrew School in South Jersey are so committed, that they’re unwilling to miss even one day?
The Shuster Family Torah Links Hebrew School is the place where Jewish learning meets fun. Under the helm of Rabbi Mordechai Miller, a warm and caring environment is assured. Rounding out the energetic dedicated staff are dynamic young teachers who engage their pupils in meaningful and enjoyable lessons and activities.
James and Geri Davis send two sons. According to Mrs. Davis, “The boys couldn’t be more excited about going each week. I’m happy it’s once a week. It’s such a relief that I don’t have to fight with them about going to Hebrew School,” she said. The Sunday sessions include time for learning and time for fun. Not only do the children learn to read Hebrew and recite blessings; they are introduced to exciting holiday customs, attend parties planned especially for them, and are given countless ways to enrich their Judaism. “The school is a great balance of family, learning, and fun,” Mr. Davis explained.
In a school that celebrates being Jewish, the students, ages 5-14, enjoy outstanding activities and lessons inspired by weekly Torah lessons that help transmit Jewish values and enhance character development. Healthy snacks as well as a delicious, nutritious lunch are served each week.
The staff and learning environment keep the students looking forward to coming back week after week. “Our son loves it,” explained Lillian Farkas. “All year long, he can’t wait until the next Sunday. Now that his younger sister Emily is old enough, he is looking forward to taking her with him.
In addition to games and other creative activities that motivate and reinforce learning, the children celebrate the holidays, enjoy sharing Jewish traditions, and participate in many arts and crafts activities. While having fun, they build solid Hebrew reading skills as they prepare for Bar and Bat Mitzvah. “We’re seeing great results,” said Mrs. Davis. “In just one year, our children learned to read Hebrew. … Rabbi Miller and the team bring a tremendous amount of love to learning and teaching every day.”
If all of this makes you think The Shuster Family Torah Links Hebrew School sounds too good to be true, there’s more you should know. The price is affordable and you’ll enjoy a sibling discount for enrolling more than one of your children.
For more information, or to enroll, please visit www.tlsnj.org, or contact Rabbi Mordechai Miller at 558.9997 or firstname.lastname@example.org. s
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Joyful procession as Torah Links moves to new Springdale Rd. home
By LORI SAMLIN MILLER For The Voice
The Torah procession makes its way from the home of Torah Links of South Jersey Director Rabbi Yisroel Tzvi Serebrowski to the synagogue’s new home on Springdale Road. The congregation received its certificate of occupancy shortly before Shavuot and moved quickly to hold its first service in its new building. The day after receiving its temporary certificate of occupancy, plans were underway for the celebration that would move the Torah Links congregation into its new building on Springdale Road. With just one and a half days to plan, a procession that included dancing the Torahs into their new home, Shabbat services, and an unforgettable Shavuot holiday were celebrated.
Taking an active part in the festivities was Bernie Platt, former mayor of Cherry Hill, who helped guide the effort from its inception. “I think it’s fabulous that Torah Links will now have a permanent home. Rabbi Serebrowski and everyone involved worked hard to get there. I believe this will be a great addition to our community,” Platt said.
Holding the Torahs before the procession were (from left), former Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt; Lee Cohen, Torah Links gabbai, holding his family’s Sefer Torah; and Steve Frankel, vice president of Torah Links of South Jersey. Following mincha services at the home of Torah Links Director Rabbi Yisroel Tzvi Serebrowski late Friday afternoon,
May 25, the atmosphere was charged with anticipation and energy, prior to the celebration.
“This is a momentous occasion,” shared Deborah Scheinberg. “It means we are moving on, growing, and welcoming more people,” she added, as a hush fell over the growing crowd that had gathered inside the Serebrowski residence and those that spilled onto the front porch. Dozens more had assembled on the lawn, all over the driveway, and even more were waiting with excitement on the street.
As the Torah scrolls were carried out of the house, scores of children cheered, jumped, and shouted, waving flags in honor of the Torah scrolls. “We wanted to be in the new building in time for Shavuos…commemorating the time when our ancestors stood together at Sinai, after leaving Egypt, to receive the Torah that informs and enriches our lives,” said Serebrowski.
Echoing the message of Shavuot, many of the adults attending the Torah procession held flaming torches, to symbolize how Torah illuminates the path a Jew follows in life. “The more Yiddishkeit we bring to Cherry Hill, the more light we bring,” said Dr. Evan Krisch.
The honor of carrying the Torahs was given to Steve Frankel, Bernie Platt, and Lee Cohen. The three men stood under a chuppah as the Torahs were draped in white, symbolizing how the Jewish people are wedded to God and His Torah. Joining Serebrowski was Rabbi Mordechai Miller, Torah Links’ educational director, and several rabbis from throughout the community.
Fred Gross has served as the synagogue’s president throughout the entire process. “This is the culmination of five years of work,” he said.
Also taking part in the Torah procession and celebration were area residents who have enjoyed the classes, attended social events, or participated in the Hebrew school that Torah Links has offered Jews of all backgrounds since Serebrowski arrived in the community a decade ago.
“This is an exciting event that should make all of Cherry Hill proud about the strong Jewish community here,” said Dan Isenberg. His wife, Dr. Susan Isenberg, added, “My heart is overflowing with joy for our community.”
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