On Sunday 7 October, South West Essex & Settlement Reform Synagogue (SWESRS) hosted a seminar attended by approximately 80 members of the Jewish community of Essex and East London aiming at breaking the taboo of talking about death and how, with practical and spiritual support, we can prepare for the end of life and hopefully a good death.
The event was hosted jointly with East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue, and the Joint Jewish Burial Society.
Keynote speaker Dr. Adrian Tookman, Palliative Care Physician and Medical Director of the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead described how patients with life threatening conditions and their families are supported by the hospice movement who deliver expert hands on medical care, emotional support and guidance, with the aim of improving the end of life experience of the patient.
Workshops took place including discussions on the lasting power of attorney, organ donation, Jewish rituals and practices regarding death, and the JJBS cemetery and woodland burial at Cheshunt.
Over the lunch time period, attendees were able to join optional discussions with representatives from the Chevra Kadisha, the Death Café, Chai Cancer Care and Haven House hospice.
A panel session entitled “What is a good death” was chaired by Rabbi Lisa Barrett of SWESRS, with input from Dr. Farrell Igielman, Anaesthetist and Head of Ethics at the BHR NHS trust, Rabbi Jason Demant of St.Francis Hospice and psychotherapist Andrea Wershof.