As the world continues to contend with the devastating effects of the Corona virus, the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization has developed a new program designed to provide immediate responses to ethical and halachic questions relating to the onset of death. While certainly motivated by the high number of fatalities being experienced during the pandemic, the founders of the initiative called “Tzohar through One Hundred Twenty” say that it will remain relevant long after this crisis is behind us.
Tzohar, well known for providing a wide variety of religious and social support services for Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, has set up a hotline that will be staffed by trained rabbis and social workers 24 hours a day, six days a week. People can call the hotline, *9253, to receive guidance on a wide variety of questions that can come up as a loved one reaches the end of life.
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who serves as rabbinic director of the program and director of the Tzohar Center for Jewish Ethics says that he regularly receives questions of these nature and recognized the need to provide a comprehensive and quick response for families in need. “These families are often in very fragile and emotionally trying situations and are typically thrust into them with little or no advance notice. Our role is to be able to provide an informed yet compassionate response to the many questions that arise and need immediate answers.”
The hotline, which will be available for both English and Hebrew speakers, is designed to answer deeply complex questions such as when a patient can be removed from a respirator or feeding tube and how to handle cases where a loved one has specifically asked that medical care be discontinued.
“These are questions which have deep halachic and ethical importance but we also need to know how to ensure that the family members are receiving the emotional and practical support they need at an extremely challenging time. We are prepared to provide those parallel services and do so in a way that allows families to know that they are being cared for.”