In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 20, 2005 / 11 Nissan, 5765

If Terri Schiavo were an Orthodox Jewish NYer would she still be alive?

By Stewart Ain

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

In aftermath of end-of-life controversy, Queens judge cites state and Jewish law in case of 86-year-old woman

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Terri Schiavo might still be alive had she been in a hospice in New York State rather than Florida.

A Queens Supreme Court justice, citing state and Orthodox Jewish law, ruled last week that a feeding tube is not medicine and must be inserted into a patient who cannot swallow unless the patient had provided explicit instructions to the contrary.

Schiavo's husband, Michael, had the feeding tube removed from his wife because he said she would not have wanted to be kept alive by a tube. Terri Schiavo did not have a living will or health-care proxy. She died March 31, 13 days after the tube was removed.

Judge Martin Ritholtz rendered his opinion in a case involving Lee Kahan, 86, an Orthodox Jewish woman.

One question was whether Kahan's "deeply held values as an observant Jew" were being breached by the actions of her daughter, so Ritholtz devoted a portion of his 17-page decision to a discussion of how Orthodox Jewish law regards feeding tubes.

"Judaism views nutrition and hydration by feeding tubes or intravenous lines not as medical treatment but as supportive care, no different from washing, turning or grooming a dying patient," the judge wrote. "The first Halachic [Jewish law] principle of medical intervention is that whenever it is possible to increase the longevity of a patient, it should be done.

"On the other hand, Halacha certainly takes pain and suffering into account. Under certain exceptional circumstances, only to be determined by a competent rabbi, it has been held by [the leading 20th century Halachic authority] Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that for a patient with pain and suffering who cannot be cured and cannot live much longer, it is not obligatory for physicians to administer medications briefly to prolong his life of pain and suffering, but nature may be allowed to take its course."

Ritholtz then quoted a differing opinion, saying Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, a contemporary of Rabbi Feinstein, believed that "suffering serves to increase a person's merit, and therefore prolonged suffering is a good reason to prolong life in order to erase sins and to allow the person an opportunity to repent."

"From this cursory overview, it is clear that the halachic view can be intricate and complex," the judge wrote. "In practice, the final decision must involve detailed investigation and full consultation between the doctors, the family and the rabbis on a case-by-case basis."

Ritholtz pointed out that within Orthodox Judaism there are two versions of health-care proxies. One written by the Rabbinical Council of America "expounds a very specific position and advises its followers to make a living will following its mandates," he said.

The other, written by the Agudath Israel of America, "merely gives guidelines as to what one should do and reserves ultimate decision-making to the individual's pre-selected rabbi," the judge said.

"The best course for observant Jews wishing to prepare a health-care proxy is to appoint a halachic authority of their choice to rule on medical issues as they arise in the event they become incapacitated," Ritholtz wrote.

In the Kahan case, the woman's doctors wanted to replace the feeding tube in her nose with one in her stomach to stave off possible infection or other problems. But Kahan's daughter, Joan Simonson, her mother's health-care agent, refused to permit the stomach tube, fearing its insertion would "actually be more harmful" to her mother.

Kahan's sister, Rose Borenstein, went to court seeking to override Simonson's refusal. During a hearing Simonson, of Milford, Conn., said her mother was dying, that she had an advanced case of Alzheimer's disease and that she had "almost no quality of life."

"My whole concern is that she not be caused any suffering and that she be able to live out the rest of her natural life, you know, as comfortably as possible," Simonson said, adding that she also did not want to do "anything that would cause my mother to die."

But after hearing doctors testify that it was medically necessary to insert a stomach feeding tube, Simonson withdrew her objection and allowed the procedure. The surgery was conducted successfully Feb. 24 and Kahan was returned to the West Lawrence Care Center, a nursing facility in Far Rockaway near Borenstein's home.

Borenstein asked Ritholtz to nullify the health-care proxy Simonson held for her mother or prevent her from making any future health-care decisions regarding feeding and hydration. Ritholtz refused to abrogate the health-care proxy but did say that Simonson had no authority to stop the feeding and hydration of her mother because Kahan left no written instructions in her health-care proxy regarding artificial nutrition and hydration.

In rendering the latter decision, Ritholtz examined the genesis of the state Health Care Proxy Law. He said that although some people view artificial nutrition and hydration through a stomach feeding tube as medical treatment comparable to mechanical ventilation, others argue that the insertion of such a tube is not a medical procedure but rather "the act of providing sustenance to a living person."

"Those who distinguish nutrition and hydration from other forms of medical treatment note that withdrawal of this form of support is frequently an independent cause of death by 'gradual starvation and hydration,' and not from the underlying disease," Ritholtz wrote.

He said that from a Halachic perspective, a persistent vegetative state and Alzheimer's disease are not terminal conditions, per se, despite the fact that they are progressive, irreversible and inevitably result in death.

"Patients with these illnesses," Ritholtz wrote, "deserve the same full range of treatment that is made available to any other patient."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Stewart Ain is a staff writer for the New York Jewish Week. Comment by clicking here.

© 2005 New York Jewish Week