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Tag: Kavod V’nichum

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  • The Very Odd Couple

    5 days ago

    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

    2 weeks ago

    “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

    3 weeks ago

    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...

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  • 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...

  • These I Remember….

    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...

  • Isn’t it Depressing?

    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

    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

    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...

  • Attention Forward: We Aren’t That Radical

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    June 19, 2013 | 7:59 am

    It has been said that most of us believe newspaper reporting to be generally accurate, until we read an article on a subject with which we are intimately familiar. It is then that we see the inaccuracies and distortions of a story clearly. Such was my experience with a recent...

  • Taharah for Gentiles?

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    May 1, 2013 | 8:00 am

    Kavod v’Nichum, the organization that assists chevra kadisha groups, synagogues and others regarding mitzvot concerning chaplaincy, burial, mourning, and related topics, recently hosted a webinar titled, “Ritual Washing for Non-Jews After Death.” The webinar presenters were two...

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