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Ethical Challenges When Caring for Orthodox Jewish Patients at the End of Life

Bressler, Toby, PhD, RN, OCN; Popp, Beth, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, HMDC

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: February 2018 - Volume 20 - Issue 1 - p 36–44
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000402
Ethics Series

Dying is a deeply personal process. The personal values, goals, and experiences of a lifetime come to the forefront during the end of life and may be shaped to some degree by the religious and cultural identity of the patient and family. When patients are part of a faith-based, religious, or cultural minority group, it can be particularly challenging for the clinical care team to gain the understanding and insights needed to reconcile disparities between majority and minority values. This article uses a case study to illustrate and review ethical issues, which frequently occur and can be anticipated in the end-of-life care of patients who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews. Although the specifics are unique to this faith-based minority group, the process of identifying, educating, and developing a means to incorporate faith-based and cultural minority beliefs and values in the provision of care can be applied to other such minority groups that the clinical team may encounter in their work.

Toby Bressler, PhD, RN, OCN, is director, Nursing for Oncology and Clinical Quality, The Mount Sinai Health System, New York, NY.

Beth Popp, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, HMDC, is associate professor of Medicine, Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Icahn School Of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY.

Address correspondence to Toby Bressler, PhD, RN, OCN, Mount Sinai Chelsea Center, 325 West 15 St, New York, NY 10011 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2018 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.