Calvary Hosts Event on Halachic End-of-Life Care

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Educating rabbis on end-of-life issues key to hospital mission.

On Dec.17, Calvary Hospital, in collaboration with the National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK), hosted its first event on “Halachic End-of-life Care: Practical Information Every Community Rabbi Should Know.” The objective was to educate people on the complex issues surrounding EOL care under Jewish law, so that people can make the right decisions for their families.

The program featured presentations by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, founder of NASCK; Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University; Christopher C. Comfort, MD, medical director, Calvary Hospital; and Tony Susi ACSW, ACHP-SW, director of supportive services, Calvary Hospital Hospice Program. The event attracted rabbis, doctors, social workers and rabbinical students from throughout New York City and Monsey, N.Y. Attendees came from Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Young Israel of Fort Lee, YI Kew Gardens Hills, YI Monsey Wesley Hills, Vaad Rabbonim of Queens, Chabad Care, Daughters of Israel, and Jewish Community Council of Canarsie, as well as other organizations.

The attendees learned about EOL care in accordance with Halacha, essential medical terminology for EOL decisions, Calvary’s Home Hospice, and the Hospital’s Dawn Greene Hospice in Manhattan. They visited Calvary’s Shabbos Lounge and Kosher Hospitality Room and learned about its 116-year history of caring for Jewish patients from Michael J. Brescia, MD, executive medical director.

Three rabbis care for hundreds of Jewish inpatients and home hospice patients at Calvary each year. In addition to kosher food upon request, Jewish inpatients and their families can expect a daily visit from a rabbi, food from an expanded Kosher Hospitality Room, dedicated Shabbos Lounge, Kabbalat Shabbat service, and celebrations of all major holidays. Calvary Hospital is part of the Pelham Parkway eruv.

Calvary recently embarked on a year-long restoration of a historic Torah, No. 515, on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust. A fundraising initiative related to this project will support Calvary’s comprehensive care for all patients and families at their inpatient facilities, Home Hospice patients throughout the greater New York area, and at The Dawn Greene Hospice. To support this important initiative, please visit:

The Hospital’s outreach to the Jewish community and the Torah Restoration have been spearheaded by Dr. Brescia.

Since 2012, Calvary has partnered with Yeshiva University to educate people in the Orthodox Jewish community about how to access excellent end-of-life in accordance with Jewish law (Halakha). The goal of this partnership is to provide observant Jews with the information they need to make the right end-of-life care decisions for their families. To learn more about the YU program or to submit questions, go to and click on the button called “Rabbinic Consultation Form.”

NASCK was founded in 1996 in order to form a united and cohesive group of Jewish Burial Societies in the United States and Canada dedicated to promoting awareness of traditional Jewish end-of-life decisions and burial practices. It acts as an umbrella organization to assist affiliated groups in defining, establishing, and achieving the highest degree of respect for life and Kovod Hames as defined by Jewish law.

About the Company:
For more than a century, Calvary Hospital has been the nation’s only fully-accredited acute care specialty hospital devote exclusively to providing palliative care to adult patients with advanced cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. More than 5,800 patients are cared for annually by Calvary’s inpatient, outpatient, home care, hospice, and wound care services. Inpatient car is offered at our 200-bed facility in the Bronx and our 25-bed Brooklyn Satellite at Lutheran Medical Center. Calvary Hospice provides short-term inpatient care at The Dawn Greene Hospice, located at Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan. To learn more or sign up for the e-newsletter, Calvary Life, please go to

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Barbara Nitzberg
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