Jewish leaders: What We Talk About When We Talk About Death

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    What do we talk about when we talk about death? Recently, eight people—ranging from thirty-somethings to senior citizens—gathered at the Manhattan Jewish Community Center in New York City for a discussion about end of life decisions.

    The resulting conversations, facilitated by skillful leaders within the local Jewish community, provided a nice blueprint for starting your conversation in your community.

    In front of them stood Sally Kaplan, one of three facilitators present from the organization What Matters, a New York City-based not-for-profit that facilitates group and individual conversations about advanced care planning. Sally provided the group with a directive: pair off with the person next to you and talk about when you first realized you were mortal.

    The participants looked around at each other; a few nervously giggled. There was a moment of uncertain silence. And then, everyone turned to their partner, and a rush of words poured forth. Death, it seems, can be confronted.

    The What Matters event is just one example of a surge in Jewish programming focused on end-of-life issues, from speeches to workshops to unstructured discussions reminiscent of Death Cafes, where strangers meet over coffee and cake to talk about any topic related to death they so choose. (I’ve attended and written about death cafes before, although at the earlier ones I attended, participants ate pancakes or Chinese food rather than desserts.) The first “café mortel” was held in Switzerland in 2004. Since then, the movement has spread globally: from living rooms in Cincinnati to (thwarted) plans for a permanent café in London to China, where sickness and mortality remain taboo.

    Read the rest of the article here: https://forward.com/life/417655/jewish-death-cafe-societies/







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