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Tag: Kavod V’nichum

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

    1 day ago

     “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)

    1 week ago

    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?

    2 weeks ago

    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—...

  • ON THE ELEVEN MONTHS

    3 weeks ago

    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...

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  • First Taharah

    December 31, 2014 | 3:00 am

    My first taharah took place on a late night in the middle of busy workweek. At the Jewish funeral parlor, the most experienced woman in the Chevrah Kadisha explained the order of taharah activities and reviewed our booklet of prayers. We were five women, which, she said, made...

  • 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...

  • The Very Odd Couple

    December 17, 2014 | 3:00 am

    One circumstance even more intimidating for me as a chaplain than offering pastoral care to clergy is to do so for Holocaust survivors and their family members. I imagine it must be daunting for chevra kadisha  (Jewish burial society) volunteers as well. The “prime directive” for...

  • 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...

  • Our Interfaith Taharah

    December 3, 2014 | 4:00 am

    As a congregational rabbi who also serves as both a hospice spiritual care counselor and a hospital chaplain, as a member of the Jewish Burial Society of Southern California, and as a student of Kavod V’Nichum’s Gamliel Institute, I have studied Taharah, educated families about...

  • 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

     

    Death.

     

    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...

  • A Shortened Shiva:  Shortchanging Jewish Law?

    November 12, 2014 | 7:47 am

    Religion is full of “shoulds” and “musts.” But feelings follow laws of their own, exacting their own in-house penalties when they are broken. Judaism has many laws for grievers, including the length of the formal mourning period known as shiva. The usual proscribed length is seven...

  • Beginning My Chevrah Kadisha Journey

    November 5, 2014 | 4:00 am

    My mother died in May, 1990. The impact of her death was suffocating; I didn’t know how to move through her death, through my mourning, or towards the next chapter. 

    My mother’s life was a challenge; she suffered with each and every breath in the 24 years that I was challenged to...

  • 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...

  • Final Kindness: Honoring K’rovei Yisr’ael

    October 22, 2014 | 4:00 am

    An important question arose during a series of talks on Jewish death practices about the beauty and power of Jewish burial and mourning practices. After the formal presentation, a Jewish woman explained that her husband was not Jewish, but they were both very active in the local...

  • Biographer for a Day

    October 15, 2014 | 4:00 am

    Think about it. Most of the time what people say to each other points just to the surface of the intense and conflicting emotions roiling below. Writers use that fact to create tension between what the characters in a story are chattering about and what they really feel and think....

  • Take Back Our Rights!

    October 8, 2014 | 4:00 am

    The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Most States (and Commonwealths) have similar, even identical, provisions in their constitutions.

    Yet,...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Long waiting times & poor care in the V.A.

    September 3, 2014 | 6:00 am

    This is something different for Expired and Inspired. At the same time,this will not be another story about healthcare.  Rather, it will be about VA bureaucracy and respect for veterans at the end of life.

    My childhood best friend’s father died recently.  As Steven put it, his...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Telltale Tattoos

    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

    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...

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