Perlow Hospice History


I read with interest “More Jewish Options For End-Of-Life Care” (June 4) reporting on the acquisition by Metropolitan Jewish of the Jacob Perlow Hospice and the Zicklin Jewish Hospice Residence. Metropolitan Jewish has been a leader in hospice care for many years.

Rabbi Charles Rudansky, who once served as chaplain at Beth Israel’s Jacob Perlow Hospice, is quoted as saying, “Aside from UJA’s Zicklin’s Residence in Riverdale, Jewish hospice care in the New York area has been sparse, due to lack of education and misunderstanding among Jewish community members.”

For the sake of history, and in gratitude to the family of Jacob Perlow, I would like to set the record straight. In 1986, I received a call from a family friend, Sylvia Heschel, widow of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. She asked that I meet with her relative, Toni Greenberg, who had been appointed executor of her uncle’s estate. Greenberg wanted to honor her uncle’s memory in a meaningful way. He was committed to Jewish communal life, and she was committed to improving end-of-life care. 

She responded enthusiastically to my suggestion of establishing a hospice under Jewish auspices in memory of her uncle. Her uncle’s name was Jacob Perlow.

We embarked on major educational efforts within the Jewish community. There was no “lack of education” or “misunderstanding among Jewish community members,” as Rabbi Rudansky states. There is, of course, always a need for ongoing education and reinforcement. 

The stated mission of the Jacob Perlow Hospice is to provide culturally sensitive care to a diverse patient community. This care is delivered by a culturally diverse multilingual staff, well educated in the social and religious needs of their patients.

I know that Metropolitan Jewish shares these lofty goals and wish them success as they continue in this tradition.

Founding Director

Center for Ethics in Medicine

Beth Israel Medical Center