Rabbi Harold S. Kushner speaks with a quiet, thoughtful authority on matters that affect the deepest parts of the human spirit. On November 18, the public will have a rare chance to hear his inspirational message in person.
Kushner, author of international,
award-winning best sellers, and a
highly sought-after motivational
speaker, will share his thoughts at 7
p.m. at the Harborside Event Center.
The evening is sponsored by Hope
Hospice and Palliative Care.
"This free presentation by Rabbi
Kushner is our gift to the community,"
said Hope Hospice President and
CEO, Samira K. Beckwith. "The people
of southwest Florida have been
very good to us, with their gifts and
their time, so this is our way of saying
Kushner, 68, said by telephone
from Los Angeles where he is on a
book tour that he looks forward to
returning to Fort Myers. He has twice
vacationed in the area. and spent his
35th anniversary on Sanibel.
"I will be talking about my book,
"Living a Life that Matters,
Resolving the Conflict Between
Conscience and Success," and tie that
into my new book, "The Lord Is My
Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of
the Twenty-Third Psalm," he said.
Those books, plus his 1981 landmark
spiritual classic, "When Bad
Things Happen to Good People," can
be thought of, in part, as guidelines to
living the best possible lives, so that
at the end we can face death with the
least amount of regret.
Kushner said one of the best things
about hospice care is, "When you are
in the valley of the shadow of death
you are not alone. That's the wonderful
thing about hospice, you are not
alone - and if I can be so bold, I
believe hospice workers are incarnations
In the final analysis, the questions
of why bad things happen to good
people transmutes itself into some
very different questions, no longer
asking why something happened, but
asking how we will respond, what we
intend to do now that it happened,"
Those at the end of their lives in
hospice sometimes have a chance to
make amends for damage
they've done to family or
friends. Kushner spoke to how
a person can live so that at their
death they can die without
overwhelming fear, frustration,
regret or guilt.
"Hospice encourages people
to take care of unfinished business,
to reconcile, to say goodbye,
to thank those they need to
thank. Secondly, when you look
back on your life you realize even if
haven't done everything perfectly,
you've probably done some things
well. With little effort you can probably
remember that you have made
suggestions or done small acts of
kindness that have changed someone
Kushner also spoke about the
importance of making the right moral
"Humans need to know their lives
have had an impact on the world
around us. It's tempting to compromise our moral standards in order to
achieve some sense of importance,"
"We have a craving for
significance, the need to know that
our lives and our choices mean something. We sometimes do great things,
and sometimes terrible things to reassure
ourselves that we matter to the
world. We sometimes confuse fame,
power, and wealth with true achievement.
But finally we need to think of
ourselves as good people, and we are
troubled when we compromise our
integrity in the pursuit of what we
think of as success.
"The Talmud says, 'to repent one
day before your death.' That means to
keep in shape every day. The rule
would be to live in such a way that if
something happened tomorrow you
would die with a minimum of regret."
Beckwith said Kushner's presentation
is the keynote event for National
Hospice Month, which is each
It was Beckwith's idea to bring
Kushner to Fort Myers. She said she
had originally met the rabbi when he
was speaking in North Dakota years
"What a wonderful message he
gave in 'When Bad Things Happen to
Good People.' It was one of the most
read and well-utilized pieces of
advice. The title says it all. People
say, 'why me, poor me' because Americans only think death is optional.
If you do the right thing, eat the
right food, you can somehow bargain
and nothing bad will ever happen to
us or those we love. Then it's a shock
when life happens."
In her professional life Beckwith
recommends the book, and even
keeps copies on hand to hand out.
"I utilize the advice and share the
advice all the time for families and
situations. That's one of the great joys
in working in hospice, to help them
focus on what you can do, not on
what you can't do."
"I wanted to invite Rabbi Kushner
to this community for the last few
years. I saw him on Larry King Live
a few months ago, but I actually started
worked on getting on his calendar
a year ago."
"This is right before the holidays,
when it's difficult for people who
have experienced loss. This is a perfect
time for Rabbi Kushner to speak
to us because he is so helpful and his
message and presence is so helpful to
Harborside Event Center, in downtown Fort Myers, has a capacity
"We wanted one central,
convenient location, and thought with
that large capacity we didn't have to
have the event for only a chosen
few," Beckwith said.
Kushner will be available to sign The Lord Is My Shepherd: The
Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third
Psalm, which will be for sale at the
What: Speaking engagement
When: Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Harbourside Event Center
Sponsor: Hope Hospice