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Ethical Wills & How to Prepare Them

A Guide to Sharing Your Values from Generation to Generation

Edited by Rabbi Jack Riemer and Dr. Nathaniel Stampfer
Foreword by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

6 x 9, 272 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-827-4

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Leave your loved ones a legacy of blessings, wisdom, gratitude and hope.

“Done right, an ethical will is a gift of love, a way of saying, ‘This is what I found gave me satisfaction and gave my life meaning. It animated my relationship to you and to your mother (or father). May it do the same for you. I send this to you with much love.’”

—from the Foreword by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Ethical wills are precious spiritual documents, windows into the souls of those who write them, and are often a treasured part of a family’s history. These “legacy letters” sum up what you have learned in life, and what you want most for, and from, your loved ones.

This book—a unique combination of “what is” and “how to”—offers a step-by-step process to help you prepare an ethical will of your own, and provides a wide range of contemporary ethical wills to help you do it. It reveals the ongoing relevance of this traditional Jewish practice for people of all faiths, all backgrounds.

The emotional power of the nearly one hundred last letters collected here, written by both famous and ordinary Jewish people, will inspire you to live more fully now, and to record your own blessings for the generations to come.

“Fascinating reading.... Especially valuable is the message ... that these documents continue to have meaning for modern Jews.”

Hadassah Magazine

“Ethical wills remind us of what are the essentials in life; they offer a model of how to live.”

Blu Greenberg, author, On Women and Judaism

“This remarkable volume will enrich all those who will read it and meditate upon its infinite wisdom.”

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate

“While the book is written from a Jewish viewpoint, its principles can easily be adapted by people of other faiths.”

Los Angeles Times


Library Journal

“Extraordinary.... [Readers will] return to their own lives with a heightened sense of meaning, purpose and gratitude.”


“Very inspiring and moving.... Sums it all up by providing a structured but flexible guide to writing your own ethical will.”

Jerusalem Post

“Perfect, an eclectic mix which will whet your appetite for more. More importantly, the included ‘Guide to Writing Your Own Ethical Will’ will be very helpful.”

UJF Virginia News

Dr. Nathaniel Stampfer served Spertus Institute for many years as dean, vice president for academic affairs and professor of Jewish education.

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner is author of the best-selling books When Bad Things Happen to Good People and Living a Life That Matters.


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978-1-58023-805-2 God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes
978-1-58023-669-0 Believing and Its Tensions
978-1-58023-819-9 Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older
978-1-58023-114-5 Creating an Ethical Jewish Life: A Practical Introduction to Classic Teachings on How to Be a Jew
978-1-58023-051-3 Heart of Wisdom: Making the Jewish Journey from Midlife through the Elder Years
978-1-58023-835-9 Jewish Ethical Values


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