On the evening of Friday, May 20th, you will have a unique opportunity to view a very important film and consider a crucially important topic with your Jewish community at Beth Hillel Temple. Whether you are the picture of health or facing illness, a young adult or an elder in our community or somewhere in between, you will want to be present when we show and discuss the documentary “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject” after Shabbat services. The 7:30pm service will be much abbreviated so that we can adjourn to the social hall at 8:00pm for the showing of this 60-minute film during the Oneg Shabbat. Here is how the film’s website describes the documentary: Know that Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject does not seek to hand down answers. Rather, it provides something far more important - the questions all of us need to contemplate. That being said, the producers have three goals for this film: 1) to change the current American attitude from one that predominantly views end-of-life as a failed medical event to one that sees it as a normal process rich in opportunity for human development, 2) to inspire dialogue between patient and doctor, husband and wife, parent and child, minister and parishioner, and 3) to encourage medical professionals, healthcare organizations and clergy to take the lead in counseling others. To hear the reactions of those who have already seen the film, go to: http://www.considertheconversation.org/adoats.
Whether you are a young adult with aging parents, an older adult contemplating your own mortality, a middle aged person wanting to discuss this subject frankly with your children or parents, or just a practical person who thinks ahead about important life decisions, this film is for you—which really means that this film is for everyone. One of the most difficult things about this subject is that so many people are uncomfortable ad- dressing it. Even those of us in the helping professions or who have been through end-of-life decisions with loved ones sometimes have trouble talking about this subject with those closest to us. As one of those interviewed about the film says on the video clip at the website, this is not just about “considering” the conversation, but tells us how to have the conversation.
In my work with families in the congregation, I find that they often have never broached this subject until they are facing an immediate situation. It is only in the midst of the emotional upheaval of such a setting, when forced to discuss this subject and when they are the least able to cope with it, that such conversation takes place and decisions are made. How much better to plan ahead and discuss these things in the presence of loved ones when we are feeling well and the future lies before us rather than to postpone and post- pone until we cannot even talk any more to our loved one about it to learn what his/her wishes are. As Rabbi Hillel put it: “Im lo achshav, eimatai?” “If not now, when?” The question could be applied to any number of situations, but none better than this topic. The Healthy Living Initiative of our Beth Hillel Adult Education Committee is giving you an opportunity to stop putting off this conversation and to learn how to start it NOW. Bring your adult child or parent with you or come alone. Bring a friend. All are welcome to engage in this crucially important conversation. You will be glad you did. We thank Hospice Alliance of Kenosha for letting us borrow the film and Rita Hagen, Hospice Alliance Executive Director, for being with us to facilitate the conversation after the film.
If not NOW, WHEN?
Rabbi Dena A. Feingold