Broken Fragments: Jewish Experiences of Alzheimer's Disease through Diagnosis, Adaptation, and Moving On
After Moses shattered the first set of Ten Commandments, destroying them with the Golden Calf, Moses did not discard those tablets' broken fragments. Although he returned to Mount Sinai to replace the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the shattered shards of the earlier set were placed in the Aron Hakodesh (Holy Ark) alongside the new tablets. From this the Talmud teaches, "Respect the aged, because the fragments of the original tablets were preserved in the Ark with the new ones" (Babylonian Talmud, B'rachot 8b).
Alzheimer's disease represents a human set of broken fragments. American Jews are living longer, and with aging comes a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Is there a Jewish response, or a response among Jews, to this worrisome illness?
In this superb volume, noted author Douglas J. Kohn weaves into each chapter's narrative rich Jewish texts with essays and touching personal stories by physicians, Jewish clergy, social workers, and family members of people with Alzheimer's disease. Broken Fragments offers the comfort and the wisdom of our ancient tradition while providing insight, meaning, and encouragement for the Alzheimer's caregiver of today.
What they're saying about Broken Fragments:
"Kohn offers a journey into the ambiguous world of Alzheimer's disease, where endurance and deterioration live side-by-side. His assembled authors each share a deeply personal narrative of change and loss experienced by those diagnosed with the disease and their loved ones. Through the lens of Jewish tradition, we learn about presence, and the provision of care when we cannot cure." --Michele Prince, LCSW, MAJCS, Director of the Kalsman Institute
"Rabbi Kohn and his colleagues illumine what is a distinctively dark passage--the journey of dementia. With heartbreaking honesty, these spiritual leaders and human service professionals offer personal narratives, as well as rich images and values drawn from Jewish tradition. This volume offers precious inspiration, comfort and guidance for rabbis, families and congregations in treasuring and sustaining the person with dementia." --Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, MSW, MAJCS, BCC. Editor, Jewish Pastoral Care and author, Jewish Visions for Aging.
"For those of us who know personally and professionally the challenges of living with Alzheimer's disease, Broken Fragments is like a drink of water in the desert. Rich in Jewish sources and personal insights from each stage of the often painful journey, you will be moved and guided by wise colleagues and teachers. Rabbi Kohn's collection will be a source of strength and healing to anyone touched by this insidious illness." --Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Foreword Simkha Y. Weintraub
Preface Douglas J. Kohn
PART I: DIAGNOSIS
Chapter 1: Normal Forgetfulness or... | Beverly L. Engel and Cathy M. Lieblich
Chapter 2: Recognizing Changes | Jonathan V. Plaut
Chapter 3: Remembering Grandma Esther: Community as Support and Validation | Paul J. Kipnes
Chapter 4: Early Responses: Talking to Dementia with Its Own, New Language | Bonnie Ann Steinberg
Chapter 5: Questions of Legal Competency | Elliot N. Dorff
Chapter 6: Shining Through: Being a Daughter When Mom is Changing | Ellen Dreskin
Chapter 7: Dementia: As Seen by a Neurologist | Rhonna Shatz
PART II: ADAPTATION
Chapter 8: Doorways of Hope: Adapting to Alzheimer's | Sheldon Marder
Chapter 9: Let There Be Light: Creative Adaptations to Alzheimer's | Mina Friedler
Chapter 10: From Frustration to Compassion: A Neurologist's Perspective | Ronald M. Andiman
Chapter 11: Alzheimer's and the Soul: A New Perspective | Michelle Brand Medwin
Chapter 12: Memory Is Incumbent upon the Jew: But What about My Mother's Dementia? | Elyse Goldstein
PART III: MOVING ON
Chapter 13: Care at Home or Care in a Home? | Toby F. Laping
Chapter 14: He's Still My Father | Mike Comins
Chapter 15: The Uncertain Path: Emerging Issues for the Caregiver | Richard F. Address
Chapter 16: The Not-Person | Douglas J. Kohn
Chapter 17: Spiraling Down and Up the Staircase: The Descent of Dementia and the Ascent That Follows | Andrew R. Sklarz
Chapter 18: The Whole World Is Full of God's Glory | Cary Kozbergz