Creating a Healthcare Proxy that indicates your desire for Jewish Law (halacha) to be followed can turn out to be a valuable gift for your family.
You will have the peace of mind that your family and loved ones will know what you want to happen if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This may prevent arguments and harsh words if your family members have different ideas about religion as it applies to healthcare decisions.
This page shares free, publicly available information on creating your own Halachic Healthcare Proxy. I have gathered and arranged them for you to make the process easier and more accessible.
Web resources related to Halachic Healthcare Proxies:
Failing to Prepare is Preparing Your Family to Fail an article by the OU.
Halachic Health Care Proxy/”Living Will” by the OU. A PDF containing a description along with many Frequently Asked Questions.
Information about the Online Registry for Health Care Directives through the OU (more information here).
Decide and Document:
1. Who do you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t? This role can be called “proxy” or “healthcare power of attorney” or “agent”. Proxies should be people you trust to follow your wishes and consult with the religious authority you choose. Additional considerations – someone with a medical background and/or is geographically close to you can be helpful.
2. Who are your alternates if the first (and second) person is unavailable? Many people will name their spouse, but if you are in a car accident while traveling together, your spouse may not be able to help you.
3. Who will be your halachic authority? Generally, this will be your Rabbi. You can also name an alternate, if your first is not available or able to help your Proxy.
RCA Halachic Health Care Proxy form – The RCA’s version – a PDF that you download, print and enter your choices on pages 3-5. -OR-
Advance Directive form for New Jersey (if in New Jersey) – The Agudath Israel’s version – a PDF that you download, print and enter your choices on pages 4-8. It also includes a wallet card on page 9 – consider laminating it to protect it and help it be noticeable.
In front of two witnesses who are not named as one of your Proxies and are not your doctor or other medical professionals, sign your:
Proxy Designations and Halachic Living Will
and, if you like,
The Application for US Living Will Registry (the application is on page 11 and 12)
If you are in New Jersey, you can sign documents in front of a notary instead of two witnesses.
Distribute & Discuss:
Your Halachic Health Proxy/Advance Directives to the people named in them (your Proxies and Rabbis designated for Halachic consultation), as well as all Medical Professionals who may manage your treatment.
Application for US Living Will Registry: One copy for your records and a copy mailed per the form’s instructions