CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 13

(Continued from page 8)

Community Rabbi
January 25, 2018
Dana Masters* and I sat together in heavy silence beside the bed of Edith Graff, a
105-year-old woman now actively dying from a respiratory infection. Dana was Edith's
daughter, and I was the hospice chaplain. To each of us who had cared for Edith Graff,
we saw the perky, charming, beautifully dressed woman who welcomed our visits with
a smile and a tender handshake. She was our "energizer bunny," marking her 103rd,
104th, and then 105th birthdays with us. She had been discharged from hospice two
times previously. It was hard to believe that this time our Edie would actually succumb
to her terminal illness, age, and a long life.
But with each passing day, with every visit to Edith's apartment, Dana was reminded of
a lifetime of criticism levied and love withheld. Edith continued to recognize Dana until
the very end of her life, just a few days before this visit. And Edith continued to respond
in a negative, critical, and controlling way when Dana still reached out with an open,
loving-and desperate-heart.
"Rabbi," Dana began tearfully, "I'm most sad that I will probably feel relieved. I feel
relieved that my mother is finally dying. And each time I visited her here, I have said,
'I love you.' I am a woman in my 70s and I keep praying my mother will say, 'I love
you,' back to me. So I guess I'm also sad that I won't ever have a chance to hear those
words from her."
In this moment, there wasn't much for me to say to Dana. I had faith in her ability to
carve a new path for herself, to define her new identity independent of her mother's
persona that loomed large over her entire life. I believed that Dana would discover her
own strength to endure, to thrive, and to build loving relationships; she had already
succeeded in doing so with her own children and grandchildren. All of these were hers
alone, totally independent of her mother. The task she had before her was for her to
devise and discover all that she had already accomplished.
And yet, in that moment, we sat together in silence, acknowledging the deeply
unsatisfying moment before us. Before Edith Graff took her final breath, Dana spent
the night at her mother's bedside. She gave morphine every few hours to keep Edith's
pain and breathing comfortable. She kissed her on the forehead and said, "I love you,
Mom." And her mother returned those words with silence.
* Pseudonyms used to ensure patient privacy.
Amy E. Goodman (NY '13) currently serves as rabbinic director for Hebrew SeniorLife
(HSL) Hospice Care in Dedham, Massachusetts and trained in chaplaincy at MJHS Hospice
Mollie and Jack Zicklin Residence (Bronx, NY), New York Hospital (Queens, NY), Lilian and
Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
(Manhattan, NY), and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (Boston, MA).
The Community Rabbi column is managed by Eric Weiss. If you are interested in writing a future
column, please contact him at


Together they started an important
conversation, which WRN now invites you to
continue with the men in your community.
Every rabbinate and every community is
unique, yet you can initiate conversations
with these articles and build a discussion
that is customized to your needs. Here is a
sample of how to start:
* Reach out to your local allies, men with whom
you work. This can include other rabbis,
cantors, Jewish professionals, non-Jewish
clergy, Federation or JCC leaders, local
funeral home staff, or lay leaders. You may
wish to invite other female rabbis to join the
* At the meeting, discuss the articles and how
they relate to your rabbinate.
* Add things that are not on Kari's list,
especially actions that are tailored to your
rabbinate and community. Think about these
-What will ensure your personal safety?
-How can your community support the
authority of your position?
-How can your community help you
grow in your rabbinate?
* Try to focus on the actions most helpful for
you. Keep it simple.
* Remember to thank your allies for being
willing to listen and helping to create positive
change in your community.
* Finally, let us know how the Ally Talk went.
Post on the WRN or CCAR Facebook pages
or email us.
If you need a more detailed program plan, feel
free to contact us. We hope that you will join
the conversation by archiving your #metoo
stories and by creating conversations with your
local allies. Much work is needed, but these
steps are an important beginning.
Ellen Nemhauser
Amy L. Memis-Foler
Mary L. Zamore


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018

CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 1
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 2
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 3
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 4
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 5
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 6
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 7
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 8
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 9
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 10
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 11
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 12
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 13
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 14