Palliative care, Chabad and Rabbi Dr Barry Kinzbrunner

I had posted a discussion with a palliative nurse a while ago and she spoke of a great Chabad seminar that she attended. Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner posted a long comment about his father Dr Barry Kinzbrunner work in palliative care and that he spoke for a Chabad convention.

I then received an email from a Chabad rabbi.

You may have been hearing reports about the recent JLI course Medicine and Morals that I authored.
Rabbi Yehuda Pink MSc
Solihull & District Hebrew Congregation

I asked for more information and he responded “If there are any specific issues you would like me to address please let me know.” To this I responded Since you are the one who contacted me and took credit and responsibility for what the palliative nurse told me, then I would like some basic information.”

I received a further email in response that showed that Chabad had no special wisdom, rather it was all due to Dr Kinzbrunner,

I chaired a session in November presented by Dr Barry Kinzbrunner, the Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Vitas that examined the interface between Halacha and Medicine in the area of Palliative Care and End of Life Issues that gave a detailed overview of the areas of terefah, goses etc. She might have been referring to that.

I asked some further questions hoping to at least find out about other aspects of the Chabad approach- I basically only received vague generalities. But I did ask one question that received a direct reply.

Who are the poskim with the Chabad community for medical halakhah?
The Chabad Community has its own Rabbonim who are experts in Medical Halacha, Rabbi Feitel Levin of Melbourne is an expert in End of Life Issues,Rabbi Feigelstock of Buenos Aires is an expert in Artificial Reproduction,

As a side point Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, son of Dr Kinzbrunner has a blog- RabbiChaplain. He likes to blog on whatever interest him in reading, hasidus, or politics. I have been trying to encourage him to limit his scope to issues of chaplaincy, hospice, death and palliative care. Leave the politics to others.

Here is a good post of his post from two weeks ago:

The Mind of the Mourner by R. Joel Wolowesky. R. Wolowesky’s goal is to present the psychological underpinnings behind Jewish mourning practices.
As someone who deals with death and dying on a daily basis, I am always looking for a new insight, a new way of thinking about how people experiencing the loss might be feeling. While that usually comes from the bereaved themselves, it is often helpful to have a knowledge base to further draw upon, not for the purpose of categorizing, but as a means of offering support if that is what the bereaved needs at the time.
R. Wolowesky’s book does not fulfill this need. Instead, it is a good summary of the thought of Rav Soloveitchik on areas of mourning and halacha. However, R. Wolowesky misses the underpinning of Rav Soloveitchik’s thought, namely that Rav Soloveitchik was writing and sharing his experiences in the form of philosophical treatises. His words were meant to describe his own suffering and difficulties in his losses, not necessarily as a means of conveying a psychology of the halachic systems view of grief and bereavement. Further, it is difficult to accept based on my experience his underlying theme, that if one fulfills the Jewish method of mourning, the grieving process will not be complicated. In fact, for many people, the ideas in this book would be counter to providing them with a halachic grieving experience.
Overall, I feel this work was disappointing and still leaves a hole for a work on how the Jewish methods of grieving may or may not provide a strong base for someone to experience a normal grieving process.

One response to “Palliative care, Chabad and Rabbi Dr Barry Kinzbrunner

  1. Dr. Barry Krinzbrunner authored, with this son’s help, the overview article for Journal of Palliative Medicine on Halacha and end of life care.

    Barry M. Krinzbrunner, Jewish Medical Ethics and End-Of-Life Care, Journal of Palliative Medicine, Vol. 7 No. 4, 2004

    I didn’t know he was doing presentations. My impression from his writing was that he knows his stuff, and is pretty responsible about the overall topic.

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