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Tag: Death

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  • How Jewish ritual helped me find my way through loss

    By Danielle Berrin

    3 weeks ago

    I had to press my lips closed, the day after it ended.

    The ritual was no longer mine. My duty was complete. But the words, with their cadences and rhythms, their alliterative twists — yitgadal v’yitgadash — had become my anthem. For 11 months, I had owned these words, claimed...

  • Soul Play

    Rabbi Avivah W. Erlick, BCC

    3 weeks ago

    --- Parashat Yom Kippur: Leviticus 16:1-34, Numbers 29:7-11

     For many of us, death is “the unthinkable.” Yom Kippur is supposed to help us with this problem. It asks us once a year to spend a day without food, water and other elements of life, and to dress in one of the garments...

  • Plan Ahead

    Fred A. Helms

    September 24, 2014 | 5:00 am

    As we confront our mortality at this time of year (the High Holidays), I would like to suggest a service you can perform that can alleviate suffering, prevent or ameliorate remorse and help prevent financial ruin.  I am talking about end-of-life documents — Durable Power of...

  • Learning to Comfort, Learning to Do

    Dr. Dan Fendel

    September 17, 2014 | 5:00 am

    As I’ve read the recent entries on this blog, I’ve been struck that something like this would never have existed a generation ago. And I don’t mean the social media aspect but the subject matter: the topic of death was not out in the open until recently.

    Death in general, and the...

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  • Kim Kardashian

    September 10, 2014 | 11:06 am

    Kim Kardashian...

    Is not the subject of this column. 

    Hollywood lost two giants recently.  Joan Rivers was just laid to rest.  A few weeks ago, Robin Williams left us.  I am not going to write in-depth tributes to these two amazing people; that has been done and will continue...

  • Feeling the Soul Depart

    Deborah Brown

    September 10, 2014 | 6:00 am

    During the first Taharah in which I participated, I was given the job of holding the meitah's/deceased woman’s head. I had such a powerful feeling of an energy coming through me and a sense of my own head being held, feeling that the energy went out of me and into the hands that I...

  • My Unataneh Tokef moments

    September 4, 2014 | 10:06 am

    On Rosh Hashanah, it is written and Yom Kippur, it is sealed; who shall live, who shall die.  But repentance, prayer and charity avert the severity of the decree.  If you apply a literal reading to this most famous of High Holiday prayers, you cannot help but conclude that it is...

  • Losing to Gain: The Central Paradox of Death Rituals - The Break that Binds

    Isaac Pollak

    August 27, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Central to religious practice, rituals may often seem intentionally obtuse, to the point of irrationality. This, in fact may be their very purpose. By devising rituals that at times seem to make little or no sense to the uninitiated, those who learn to perform the rituals - if not...

  • Dying unsudden

    By Mahim Maher

    August 24, 2014 | 1:07 pm

    My grandmother is dying. We take turns waiting at her bedside in the ICU. I ferry relatives back and forth for their shifts to the house and back to the hospital. It struck me that not only was there a limbo on the national front—two major groups are holding sit-in protests to...

  • Leonard Fein on confronting death

    August 20, 2014 | 11:17 am

    Consolation is on my mind, doubtless because just the other day I addressed a convention of a truly extraordinary organization called Kavod v’Nichum, Honor and Comfort. They’d gathered in Philadelphia, and because I once wrote some words expressing my awe at their devotion and...

  • Under a Tree in the Wilderness

    Zoe Ariana Van Raan

    August 20, 2014 | 6:00 am

    She killed herself under a tree in the wilderness, with the intention of not being found until well after the process of bodily death was complete. Days later I stood in front of her casket.

    In the final few months of her life she sought out a Jewish community and declared...

  • The Passing Of Leibel Fein

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    August 17, 2014 | 5:55 am

    Baruch dayan haemet (blessed be the true judge).

    Earlier this week, the death of Leonard “Leibel” Fein was announced. Much has been said about Leibel Fein, and his many accomplishments, by many who knew him, and can speak from personal experience of him. I am not one of those...

  • A Hospice Chaplain’s Tale

    Rabbi Karen B. Kaplan

    August 13, 2014 | 6:00 am

    A great way to stop a conversation cold with someone I am meeting for the first time is to let out that I was a hospice chaplain for seven years. It’s good to know that most readers of this blog would take this as a sublime conversation-starter instead.

    As I reflected with a...

  • Robin Williams’ Holocaust film

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    August 12, 2014 | 1:41 am

    I experienced Robin Williams’ generosity of spirit even before I got on the phone with him for an interview about his Holocaust-themed film, “Jakob the Liar,” in 1999.   The time our interview was set happened to land on the day a white supremacist went on a shooting spree at the...

  • The Bookends of Life

    Jean Berman

    August 6, 2014 | 8:00 am

    The call came from a woman I liked and had learned from: would I consider participating in a Taharah – a what? Someone had died and she was spearheading a new initiative to offer the traditional Jewish ceremony of purification. I was hesitant but open, and after more conversation...

  • What Would God Say?

    By Beit T'shuvah

    August 1, 2014 | 10:31 am

    By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

    I am so conflicted! The situation in Israel conflicts me. The situation in America conflicts me. The situation in life conflicts me. I seem to be in the midst of conflict in most areas of my life. This week, someone who had sought recovery and then sought...

  • Giving Back: Taharah

    Dr. Joyce Kendall Friedman

    July 23, 2014 | 1:46 pm

    I waited a year after my mother, z”l, passed away, before I was able to think about doing for others what the Chevrah Kadisha had done for my mother.

     I read the manual which they gave me. My friend, Helene, suggested that I watch the first time and read the prayers in English as...

  • Telltale Tattoos

    Kerry Swartz

    July 16, 2014 | 1:16 pm

    One of the most prevalent myths about Jewish death pertains to tattoos: should you have them, you can’t have a Jewish funeral or be buried in a Jewish cemetery. This is simply not true. Indeed, this is the single most frequent tweet I make as a response for Kavod v’Nichum....

  • Honor Guard

    Susan Esther Barnes

    July 8, 2014 | 1:17 am

    This is a description that I wrote shortly after I had my first experience of shmirah, guarding or watching over someone who has died. The Jewish tradition is not to leave a person alone from the time of their death until the time of their burial. A shomer (male) or shomeret...

  • These I Remember….

    Isaac Pollak

    July 1, 2014 | 1:09 am

    I have done many taharot in the last 36 years, but there are a handful that stand out, and come back to me again and again, especially during days of Yizkor (remembrance) and Zayin Adar (7th of the month of Aar, when many Chevrai Kadisha choose to acknowledge their members), when...

  • Discussing death: Advanced directives, living wills and more

    June 25, 2014 | 3:48 pm

    Nobody likes to contemplate — let alone talk about — one’s own death or that of a loved one. However, now that medicine has advanced to the point that it can keep people alive, with or without consciousness, long past the stage that they themselves would have wanted to live in that...

  • Isn’t it Depressing?

    Rena Boroditsky

    June 25, 2014 | 2:54 pm

    People say to me, “I don’t understand how you do your job,” or,”What's it like to be surrounded by death all the time?  Isn't it depressing?”

    It’s not depressing, but it can be sad. Those of us behind the scenes, the Shomrim who sit vigil with our loved ones, the members of the...

  • She is Pure

    Rabbi Me'irah Illinsky

    June 18, 2014 | 2:26 pm

    My first Taharah, ritual purification, was a trial of courage for me. I stepped in with little preparation, and it was new to me.

    We met as the sun was going down, to prepare the metah (Hebrew for a deceased female) for burial the next morning. The difference between someone very...

  • Guarding the Body of a Friend

    Kohenet Ellie Barbarash

    June 13, 2014 | 11:32 am

    I left for the airport as soon as I got the call. My friend Yosefa, a brilliant tattoo artist, educator, and fellow Kohenet, was on her deathbed, dying of a brain tumor. I booked the next flight from Philadelphia to Seattle in time to do shemirah, to guard her body and soul after...

  • Death on Torah on the Trails

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    May 21, 2014 | 1:30 am

    On the third Saturday of the month our Torah Study group, which normally meets in a room at the synagogue, instead goes on “Torah on the Trails.” Usually, this consists of carpooling to a trailhead, taking an easy hike to a gathering place, settling in to study some Torah, then...

  • When a mother dies

    By Danielle Berrin

    May 7, 2014 | 11:53 am

    On my desk sits a photograph of a mother and child. In 5-by-7 black and white, a beautiful young woman in her 20s, her dark hair in a twist, and her lips and fingernails plainly tinted, is holding her baby up to her cheek and looking out, almost heavenward. Their faces are...

  • Peaches Geldof’s death likely linked to heroin, police say

    May 1, 2014 | 2:21 pm

    Heroin probably played a role in the death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, who died in her family home last month while alone with one of her two young sons, police said on Thursday.

    A post-mortem examination failed to establish the...

  • Remembering comedian David Brenner

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    March 18, 2014 | 12:53 pm

    David Brenner, whose wry observational comedy made him a star in the 1970s, and who appeared more than 150 times on “The Tonight Show,” died on Saturday, after a struggle with cancer, at his home in New York.  He was 78.

    Throughout his comedy career, which he embarked upon after...

  • Where Are You, Jahi McMath?

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    January 8, 2014 | 12:30 am

    For weeks, I’ve been having an internal debate about whether to write about this particular tragedy. If I were to write about it, what point(s) would I want to make that I haven’t seen made elsewhere? What is missing from this discussion?

    In case you somehow missed it, Jahi...

  • Talking end of life with next of kin

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    January 7, 2014 | 11:46 am

    Maybe it is thinking about the New Year that brings up the subject. Or maybe because the holiday season is a time when families come together and talk.  For whatever reason, within the last few weeks NPR did a story on “The Conversation Project,”  and the LA Times had an Opinion...

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