Compassion & Choices Announces Winner of 2023 Reverend Dr. Paul Smith Award

Longtime supporter and accomplished spiritual leader Rabbi Ariel Stone receives the honor, named for civil-rights and end-of-life movement pioneer Smith.
June 7, 2023

Compassion & Choices is proud to present Rabbi Ariel Stone with this year’s Rev. Dr. Paul Smith award. The annual accolade, which celebrates faith leaders dedicated to our movement, honors Smith, a lifelong civil-rights activist and impassioned end-of-life options advocate.

We selected Stone for her unwavering commitment to improving end-of-life care and options. An ardent advocate for more than 25 years, she wrote a definitive text, The Alef-Bet of Death, Dying as a Jew: A Guide for the Dying out of Jewish Traditional Sources, an exploration of life’s end through the prism of Jewish learning and culture.

Said Stone in a recent interview: “As much as it is a blessing to be alive, it is a blessing to be able to let go of life in a way that feels right to the individual. It’s the biggest challenge any of us is ever going to face. If we are privileged enough to die peacefully in a bed surrounded by loved ones, that is a tremendous blessing. And perhaps for the sake of all those who do not enjoy that blessing, perhaps in that way we might feel the responsibility that if we are so lucky that we do the best we can with that blessing.”

Stone has been Congregation Shir Tikvah’s spiritual leader since its founding in 2002. A caring and vibrant authority, she is an exceptionally knowledgeable teacher of Torah and a recognized scholar of Jewish mysticism. She is the first female rabbi to head a congregation in the state of Oregon as well as the first American rabbi to lead a congregation in the former Soviet Union and the first progressive rabbi to serve the Jewish community in Ukraine.

Currently, Stone also serves as chair of Hesed Shel Emet (the Oregon Jewish Indigent Burial Society), rabbinic mentor for TischPDX, convener of the antiracist group Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance and adjunct faculty member in the Judaic Studies department at Portland State University.

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