Culture, Global, Religion

Judaism in the News

I may be in the USA these days, but I still get much of my news from Canada. Reading a CBC article this morning, I was disappointed that the reporter(s) didn’t add to the following:

Golubchuk and his family are Orthodox Jews who believe it is immoral to hasten death.
“When a person is born, it’s written down when they’re gonna die,” Golubchuk’s daughter, Miriam Geller, told CBC news. “So it’s God that decides this, not the doctors.”

The issue at hand is that Samuel Golubchuk, 84, “has no brain function” and three doctors at Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital have now refused to keep him “physically alive on a ventilator.” One of the physicians made the following case:

Last month, in a letter to the Winnipeg health authority, Golubchuk’s original attending physician, Anand Kumar, said he would no longer work in Grace Hospital’s critical care unit because it meant providing medical services to his former patient [Golubchuk] that were “grotesque.”
Golubchuk had developed bedsores, Anand wrote, and doctors were having to trim infected flesh from his body to prevent infections from spreading.
“To inflict this kind of assault on him without a reasonable hope of benefit is an abomination,” Anand’s letter said. “I can’t do it.”

Golubchuk has been “on life support” since “late last year,” and has no hopes of recovering. First do no harm. [Full article with comments here.] I have found myself annoyed with many media for dropping in religious statements without explanations or any proof. Just because a subject mentions “my religion says foo” doesn’t mean foo is actually the correct or only interpretation/understanding/belief. And I want to see the media start to pay more attention to this. This article could easily have included a paragraph explaining the Orthodox perspectives on death and/or medically assisted dying. Instead, readers with no background on the topic will go away thinking that Orthodoxy (and Judaism as a whole by extension) is flat-out against taking someone without hope of recovery off life support. And, coupled with the moral and ethical conclusions found later in the paragraph, might also believe that Orthodoxy (Judaism) is unethical or immoral.
…Or, I’m completely overreacting and unreasonable to think the press has dropped the ball here. In which case, I’ve been reading too much GetReligion.

3 thoughts on “Judaism in the News

  1. GetReligion is pretty interesting, not a bllog I’ve read before, and will probably read now. BUt… I wonder what their perspective on Judaic er, halachic diversity might be given that they seem to have a pretty specific religious and social perspective.

  2. It’s stuff like this that keeps Muffti an atheist:

    “When a person is born, it’s written down when they’re gonna die,” Golubchuk’s daughter, Miriam Geller, told CBC news. “So it’s God that decides this, not the doctors.”

    If God writes it down, surely no doctor can undo it. Are they saying that God manages to mess it up?
    Such sloppy thinking.

  3. As a Jew I agree with the idea that God brings you into the world and He should bring you out. But since when does God say that you should be on artificial means to be kept alive. That to me is a much greater sin then keeping him alive

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