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So That Your Values Live On

Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them

Edited and annotated by Rabbi Jack Riemer and
Professor Nathaniel Stampfer

6 x 9, 272 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-879045-34-7

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With this book, anyone, from any tradition, can write an ethical will.

Words that come from the heart enter the heart.” Many of these wills come from plain ordinary fathers and mothers, yet they touch the hearts of all who read them. And so I suggest that you read these wills, and then that you try your hand at writing one of your own. If you do, you will leave a gift to the future, and the not-yet-born children of your children’s children will thank you and bless you for it.

from the Introduction

Ethical wills are precious spiritual documents, windows into the souls of those who write them.

Those who write ethical wills—often parents writing letters to their children or grandparents to their grandchildren—try to sum up what they have learned in life, and what they want most for, and from, their loved ones.

In this unique combination of “What Is” and “How To,” Riemer and Stampfer show how to prepare an ethical will and provide as guides examples of ethical wills written by almost 100 famous and ordinary people. This wide range of contemporary ethical wills reveals the ongoing relevance of ethical wills for people of all faiths, all backgrounds.

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

Elie Wiesel, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Boston University

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

Blu Greenberg, author of On Women and Judaism

“Fascinating and informative, this book moves us to confront questions of what we stand for and what we will bequeath to our children.”

Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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

Los Angeles Times


“Extraordinary.... Provides compelling insight into the soul of the Jewish people.... [Readers will] return to their own lives with a heightened sense of meaning, purpose and gratitude.”



Library Journal

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

Jerusalem Post

“The editors are to be commended for finding a balance between the famous ... and men and women who though not well-known, had something of great importance to say to their descendants and to us.”

Jewish Spectator

“Not only are readers treated to a variety of contemporary wills, but also they are encouraged to make their own.... Makes readers realize that the most precious thing we leave behind when we die is not property, but our legacy of values.”

San Diego Jewish Times

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

Hadassah Magazine

“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

“Can easily be adapted by people of other faiths.”

Catholic Voice

“Has wisdom for people of all faiths.”

Harrisburg (PA) Evening News

Rabbi Jack Riemer, a well-known author and speaker, has conducted many workshops and seminars to help people learn about the inspiring tradition of ethical wills and to prepare their own. He is rabbi of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Boca Raton, Florida, and the head of the National Rabbinic Network, a support system for rabbis across all denominational lines. He is editor of The World of the High Holy Days (Bernie Books) and Wrestling with the Angel (Schocken).

Rabbi Jack Riemer is available to speak on the following topics:

• So That Your Values Live On

• The Ethics of Fund Raising

• Wisdom For the End of Life

• David, Bathsheba and Woody Allen

• Portrait of Elijah

Click here to contact the editor.

Professor Nathaniel Stampfer is dean / vice president emeritus and professor of Jewish Studies at Spertus College in Chicago. He is editor of The Solomon Goldman Lectures: Perspectives in Jewish Learning (Spertus Press).


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978-1-58023-114-5 Creating an Ethical Jewish Life: A Practical Introduction to Classic Teachings on How to Be a Jew
978-1-58023-018-6 Lifecycles, Vol. 1
978-1-58023-203-6 Jewish Journaling Book: How to Use Jewish Tradition to Write Your Life & Explore Your Soul


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