The Jewish Afterlife…And Getting There Gently

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Date(s) - January 13, 2014
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Highland Park Conservative Temple

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Bruce Birnberg, Executive Director of The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice, has been giving a presentation on the afterlife, a topic that has fascinated him for years.  “Speculation about what happens to the soul after death is exceedingly interesting,” Bruce said, smiling as he leaned back in his chair.  He appears very well versed in Jewish views of the afterlife, having taken a number of courses on the subject.

“I call the study of exactly what happens to the soul ‘speculative spirituality’.”  Funeral rituals around the world are almost always based on what is believed happens to the soul.  Mourning practices are designed to help usher it on its journey,” he explained as we discussed the premise of his talk.  As a Hospice director for a faith-based hospice, Bruce is aware of the wide variety of beliefs people have.

His presentation is approximately an hour and a half, and it focuses on “why we do what we do” in the Jewish tradition.  Throughout the talk, he shows video clips illustrating contrasting beliefs from Hindu, Christian, and Mexican traditions to provide an all encompassing view of different afterlife theories from many different societies.  The last section of his talk focuses on the Jewish tradition specifically, or a comparison of Judeo-Christian beliefs, depending on the audience.

Bruce presents many afterlife perspectives.  “I get asked a lot ‘Do you really believe the things you’re presenting?’ and the truth is that I do, 90% of the time.  That’s what so amazing about this topic.  Views of the afterlife are very personal, and can be fluid, changing over time.”

After the presentation, Bruce is more than happy to field questions from the audience.  “It’s very emotional for some people, because the content is so powerful,” he said.  He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Family Therapist, which makes him uniquely qualified in his position at The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice.    Before this, Bruce worked as the Associate Director at JFK Family Medicine Residency Program, teaching resident physicians a sophisticated psychosocial curriculum, which included end-of-life issues.

The next presentation will be on Monday, January 13, 2014 at 8pm at the Highland Park Conservative Temple, located at 201 South Third Avenue, Highland Park, NJ 08904.  It will be open to the community, so please come see this ‘can’t miss’ presentation.

The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice is an agency of The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living.  For more information about this program, hospice care, or to schedule a presentation, email us at  or reach us by phone at (732) 227-1212.