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The Intersection of Religion and Health Care

The Intersection of Religion and Health Care

Sunday, June 26, 2011 2:00 pm

When we need to grapple with significant health issues, what shapes our focus and direction? How do we find comfort for ourselves? How can we be most helpful to the sick? How do we navigate the spiritual needs of family members while making the right medical decisions for ailing loved ones? What role does religion play in our answers to these questions? What roles do doctors and other medical caregivers play? Dr. James A. Tulsky, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, and Rabbi Dr. Eleanor Smith presented their perspectives on how science and faith interact when we face challenging medical circumstances.

 Dr. James A. Tulsky is Director of the Center for Palliative Care and Professor of Medicine and Nursing at Duke University. Dr. Tulsky has published widely on doctorpatient communication at the end of life. His current research focuses on enhancement of communication between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer and identification of clinical, psychosocial, and spiritual trajectories of patients at the end of life.

 Rabbi Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. A leader in the Jewish Healing movement, she directed the Hospice Care Program at the Jewish Healing Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has written extensively on pastoral care, hospice, and spiritual direction, and is now at work on a book about Judaism and peacemaking.

 Rabbi Dr. Eleanor Smith served seven years as associate rabbi at Evanston’s Beth Emet the Free Synagogue before being called to the study of medicine, which she sees as an extension of her rabbinate. She obtained her MD from University of Chicago in 2008 and is finishing a residency in Internal Medicine at Evanston Hospital. In July, she will become a fellow in Hematology/Oncology.


The Alex and Klara Tulsky Symposium on the Jewish Future is an annual program that focuses on specific challenges facing the American Jewish community. Recent topics have explored identity, diversity, and the meaning of continuity in contemporary Jewish life.