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Jewish Journal

Tag: Kavod V’nichum

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  • Remembering Life by Jean Berman

    4 days ago

    I have an affinity for the passage we use from the Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs while washing the body of the meit/deceased:

     

    How beautiful you are, my beloved friend:

    your eyes are doves from behind your

    tresses; your hair as a flock of goats that

    trail down from Mount...

  • Terrible Taharah

    2 weeks ago

    [Editor's Note: This was written some time ago, looking back. It reflects on a past experience and the author's response to it then.  The phrase 'comedy of errors' seems to float into conciousness as it unfolds. This entry is intended for amusement, with an aspect of satire. Enjoy....

  • Who is So Into Death?

    3 weeks ago

    Sometimes the question comes up: Who is behind Kavod v’Nichum? Who is it that spends their time working on matters around death and death rituals? Here is one answer about such a person.

    David Zinner of Columbia, Maryland has truly created something out of nothing. For the past...

  • Jewish Leader Linda Jum’s Death at 61 Galvanizes Her Chevrah Kadisha

    April 1, 2015 | 3:31 am

    [Editor’s Note: This entry is a bit of an ‘insider’ posting. It is longer than most, and deals with someone who was deeply involved in the Chevrah Kadisha ‘movement’, the group that seeks to reclaim Jewish tradition and practices around the continuum at the end of life for any and...

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  • A Hard Taharah

    March 25, 2015 | 3:49 am

    It has been exactly a year since our Chevrah Kadisha performed taharah for O, who was 10 months old.  When our team of 4 answered the call, I asked them to think of lullabies in Hebrew and/or English and niggunim (wordless melodies) which we would use during the taharah in place of...

  • Contemplating Death vs Life as a Focus

    March 18, 2015 | 4:00 am

    If one walks into the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan (a five minute stroll from our home) and makes a right turn from the central Atrium, one comes face to face with the exhibit on the religions of Egypt which glorified death, with mortuary artifacts over 4000 years old....

  • Why I Am a Stuffed Shirt about Jeans at a Funeral

    March 11, 2015 | 3:28 am

    When it comes to officiating funerals, I am fairly easygoing and liberal about what goes on. Toss your dear aunt’s earrings after the lowered casket? Sure. Play a recording of the deceased’s singing from a recital in her teens? Have everyone present, family and friends, Jew and...

  • The Chevrah Kadisha Conference

    March 4, 2015 | 3:40 am

    Once a year, we attend a gathering of individuals from a range of Jewish backgrounds, with varying perspectives and practices, who come together in a spirit of kindness and compassion, intellectually curious, eager to learn from one another, and open to supporting and being...

  • The Conference That Was Dead On

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    February 25, 2015 | 3:31 am

    Yesterday, Tuesday February 24th, 2015, the 13th Annual Kavod v’Nichum Chevrah Kadisha conference concluded in Austin, Tx. A group of about 75 people from all over North America came together and studied, learned, shared, talked, socialized, cried, and kvelled with and for each...

  • Prayer for Shomerim

    February 18, 2015 | 3:24 am

    Prayer for the Shomerim*

    As you travel towards the funeral home,
    May you be blessed with patience.

    As you enter the chapel,
    May you be blessed with slowing.

    As you relieve your predecessor,
    May you be blessed with hugs and knowing silence.

    As you gather near the...

  • 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...

  • Washing Her Hair

    February 4, 2015 | 3:30 am

    I will always remember one of the first taharot I did around six years ago. As I washed and combed the hair of the metah I saw the image of her mother combing her hair as a small child, and then I saw a lover caressing her hair.

    She had been a child loved by parents, and then had...

  • 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—...

  • ON THE ELEVEN MONTHS

    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...

  • 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...

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