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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776

Groundbreaking New Release from URJ Press Looks at Alzheimer's Disease through a Jewish Lens

Annette Powers

June 5, 2012, New York -- In essays by physicians, Jewish clergy, social workers, and family members of people with Alzheimer's disease, Broken Fragments: Jewish Experiences of Alzheimer's Disease through Diagnosis, Adaptation, and Moving On, edited by Rabbi Douglas J. Kohn, weaves touching personal stories and rich Jewish texts into each chapter's narrative. This new book, published by URJ Press, offers the comfort and the wisdom of our ancient tradition while providing meaning and encouragement for the Alzheimer's caregiver of today.

The name of the book comes from a story in the Talmud, that describes how Moses shattered the first set of Ten Commandments, destroying them with the Golden Calf, yet he 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 also were retained. 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.

"From my grandfather's and my father-in-law's struggles with Alzheimer's Disease, I learned how vital it is to safeguard the dignity, integrity and care of each soul with the illness. This book provides that sacred resource," said Rabbi Kohn.

"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," said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism. "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 Kohn became rabbi of Southern California's oldest synagogue, Redlands' Congregation Emanu El, in 2001, after serving synagogues in Buffalo, Baltimore, and Chicago. A graduate of Antioch College and Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, he was a delegate to the opening of the Mychoels Jewish Center in Moscow and to the 2006 World Zionist Congress. He is the editor of Life, Faith, and Cancer and a contributor to World Religions for Healthcare Professionals.

URJ Press is the book publishing arm of URJ Books and Music, an independent publisher of books and music of Jewish interest and the official publisher of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the largest Jewish denomination in North America.

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