Jewish Journal

Tag: Death

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  • Dreaming of Taharah

    February 11, 2015 | 3:20 am

    I am involved in a wanna-be group. We’ve desired to form a Chevrah Kadisha and begin providing taharah rituals in our area for several years. We have come up against many obstacles, interestingly, mostly from within (ability to organize, commit time, etc.). 

    I had this experience...

  • Kavod v’Nichum: Nurses, the Dying, and the Newly Dead

    January 28, 2015 | 3:12 am

     “On my way home I stopped and picked up some things for her, like baby shampoo and stuff…because I wanted to give her a little something extra because it was her last day.”

    --Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, discussing the imminent death of her tiny patient.

    For nurses, caring...

  • Vidui (Final Confession)

    January 21, 2015 | 3:00 am

    As I have sat with so many people as they were dying, I never felt comfortable listening to or reading, the traditional, standard Vidui, as it is.

    It is so dark, and so filled with gloom, that not one of the patients I have shared the vidui with - I believe- felt comforted, felt...

  • Where ARE you anyway?

    January 14, 2015 | 3:00 am

    The first question God asks a human is a tricky one.

    Adam and Eve, having just eaten of the forbidden fruit, hear the voice of God meandering through the Garden amidst the breezy rustlings of the day. God asks them, “Ayekha—Where are you?”  The answer was a simple one. “Hineni—...


    January 7, 2015 | 3:00 am

    It worked the way it was supposed to work. Really. When my dad died, after those first shakey few days, saying Kaddish got easy. My dad’s life was full and meaningful and he had accomplished much. He had struggled with cancer for a year and had become so frail that it was clearly...

  • Nachum

    December 24, 2014 | 3:00 am

    If you ask a non-Orthodox Jew "What is a Chevrah Kadisha?" you'll probably get a lot of approximately right answers.  If you ask, "What is a Taharah?" I suspect you'll be met with an abundance of blank stares. In our very intelligent community, we are clearly lacking some basic...

  • Dying we live [1995]

    By Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

    December 18, 2014 | 7:32 am

    When last I spoke to my teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, he asked if he could borrow my kittel. He was not at home in New York but here in California and it was before the High Holidays. "You know,” he explained "the kittel is part of the tachrichim -- the shrouds in which the dead...

  • Dust or Eternal Life? An Overview on Life After Death

    December 10, 2014 | 3:18 am

    “Dust You Are and Dust You Shall Remain” the first Human Being is told in Genesis. Ecclesiastes continues that “a season is set for everything; a time to be born and a time to die.” Yet every important Jewish thinker has depicted belief in an afterlife as a fundamental feature of...

  • Receiving the Birthday Gift of Taharah

    November 26, 2014 | 11:05 am

    The first thing I did on my 55th birthday was to participate in my first Taharah (ritual purification).  I can’t think of a better birthday present.  Perhaps calling another person’s taharah one of my best birthday presents ever seemsas strange to you as it did to some of my...

  • Death Cafe in Winnipeg, Canada

    November 19, 2014 | 4:00 am

    About 50 brave souls gathered on a frigid January evening to eat cake, drink tea, and talk about




    Jon Underwood, a 40-something fellow in the UK, does website development, design and engagement around end of life issues.

    One of his projects focused on how...

  • Cancer takes Brittany Maynard

    By Ilana Angel

    November 3, 2014 | 6:50 am

    The young and beautiful Brittany Maynard passed away this past weekend. Many followed this woman’s journey as she brought awareness to her decision to choose when to die while battling terminal cancer. There is a lot of debate over Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and the...

  • There I Was, Dead

    October 29, 2014 | 4:00 am

    There I was, lying on the table pretending to be dead.  Six intensely focused people were huddled around me reciting specific liturgy from Scripture and dressing me in burial shrouds.  I tried to just be “dead weight” – loose, relaxed, and present.  As I followed their progress, I...

  • How Jewish ritual helped me find my way through loss

    By Danielle Berrin

    October 2, 2014 | 1:02 pm

    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...

  • How Jewish ritual helped me find my way through loss

    By Danielle Berrin

    October 2, 2014 | 11:06 am

    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

    October 1, 2014 | 5:00 am

    --- 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

    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

    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...

  • 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

    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

    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 MM

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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...

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