Brooklyn, NY – What began as an effort to create a sound legal document that would protect the religious rights of gravely ill Jewish patients has now evolved into a full-fledged organization that offers a full array of assistance with end of life issues.
Chayim Aruchim, a relatively new division of Agudath Israel of America, was officially created approximately one year ago to simplify dealing with end of life issues by having a network of doctors, poskim and advocates available with a single phone call. They have also drafted a halachically correct medical directive, giving control over a patient’s end of life issues to the family instead of allowing doctors or hospital administrators, who might be motivated by financial constraints, to make those decisions for them.
“The government and insurance agencies have decided to solve the problem of old, sick and medically fragile patients using costly medical resources by pushing hard to stop treating them and putting patients into hospices, which are designed to let people die,” Rabbi Berish Fried, Associated Statewide Project Coordinator of Chayim Aruchim, told VIN News. “Every single case has to be analyzed by rabbinical and medical professionals before a Yid can ever be allowed to be placed in such a setting.”
As New York State Law requires health care facilities to accommodate the civil and religious liberties of every patient, “Having a Halachic Medical Directive will ensure that those religious rights are made known to the hospital and are protected”. The five page Halachic Medical Directive, which was prepared by a team of Agudah lawyers and community Rabbonim, is legally valid in sixteen states and Quebec can be downloaded at http://chayimaruchim.com/?page_id=84.
Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, vice President of Agudath Israel hopes to have every Orthodox Jew over the age of 18 sign the five page document.
Over Fifty Brooklyn Rabbis attended Chayim Aruchim’s first ever meeting yesterday at Kahal Chassidim in Borough Park. The purpose of the asifa was to make community poskim aware of the end of life issues that are being faced daily, and to launch a campaign encouraging every member of the Jewish community to have a signed Halachic Medical Directive.
Speakers at this event included Harav Hershel Ausch, Dr. Yashir Hirshaut, a prominent oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, Agudath Israel Rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger and Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz.
Video of the event by Shimon Gifter.