Jewish Journal

Tag: Kavod V’nichum

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  • Taharah and the Paradox of Purity of the Dead

    3 days ago

    In Torah touching a dead person is one of the sources of impurity (tumah).  Tumah is often described as an atmospheric coating or layer enveloping the impure person. It sounds almost like a metaphor for grief. Though it is invisible it was considered real. The corpse has given up...

  • “Tough” Taharah

    1 week ago

    I am what you would call a professional Taharah person. I am part of a team that performs most if not all of them for our community Chevrah Kadisha; I can’t recall the last time I was unable to participate in one. And I do receive compensation for my involvement, a modest stipend,...

  • Mourning Jewishly for a parent as a convert

    2 weeks ago

    Jewish tradition holds that converts are not obligated to mourn for their biological parents—even though the weight of honoring one’s parents is considered second only to fear of God on the scale of mitzvot.[1] So, when their parents die, Jews-by-choice feel themselves placed into...

  • A Very Brief Manual on Visiting the Terminally Ill

    3 weeks ago

    Perhaps because we are directly and actively involved with after-life ritual we do NOT shrink from connecting with people who are terminally ill.  We continue to speak and behave as we always have.  And we don't describe time spent with a terminally ill friend as a visit to “the...

  • What Touched Me

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    June 29, 2016 | 4:22 am

    [Ed. Note: On June 5th, 2016, at the 14th annual Kavod v’Nichum Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference, the Gamliel Institute, the leadership training arm of Kavod v’Nichum, celebrated the graduation of the first class of graduates of the Gamliel Institute course of...

  • Gamliel Institute Celebrates its First Graduating Class

    June 22, 2016 | 4:35 am

    [Ed. Note: The following is a report about the graduation of the first class from the Gamliel Institute, the leadership training arm of Kavod v’Nichum. The graduates all completed the five semester-long core courses, as well as accomplishing a significant project that makes a...

  • Near Here Are Buried British Soldiers

    June 15, 2016 | 4:57 am

    On June 5 through 7, Kavod v’Nichum held its 14th annual North American Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference in Lexington, MA. Just up the street from where we stayed was the Minute Man National Historic Park, so of course I took some time to walk the trail there, which...

  • No Fear = Acceptance? Getting there.

    June 8, 2016 | 4:31 am

    [Ed. Note: This entry was written as a followup to a recent posting in this blog by Rabbi Karen B. Kaplan entitled Fear Gets Relegated to a Bit Part, which appeared on 5/25/2016. --- JB]


    Every individual, coming from their own life experiences, deals with death in their own...

  • Sanctified Vestments, Secular Outfits - Holy Dressing for a Sacred Purpose

    June 1, 2016 | 4:43 am

    “You look so nice today,” my student told me.

    I had just arrived for a Sunday afternoon class for rabbinic and cantorial students and I was uncharacteristically dressed up, having come to teach directly after officiating at a funeral.

    While it’s always pleasant to be told that...

  • Fear Gets Relegated to a Bit Part

    May 25, 2016 | 4:06 am

    This week I came across a patient who feels it is unfair for him to be alive any longer if that means someone else in the world, such as a Syrian orphan, is giving up part of their allotted share of life in order for an old man like him, to continue being here. Using this odd...

  • Understand Grief to Better Offer Your Sympathies

    May 18, 2016 | 4:34 am

    [Ed. Note: This offering is a more practical piece, targeted at advising what to say and expect in the face of grief. In  a future entry we will look at what NOT to say or do. There is also information on the Kavod v'Nichum Jewish Funerals website at ...

  • Zachor — A Prayer for Unacknowledged Mourners

    May 11, 2016 | 4:01 am

    I am mourning the loss of my beloved grandchild. I am the mother (father) of the mourner, and the grandmother (grandfather) of the mait (maita) — but oddly — I sit in this Shiva house without anything spiritual to bring comfort or peace.  There is nothing for me to hold on to, as I...

  • Hanging in the Liminal Place

    May 4, 2016 | 6:00 am

    Working as a hospice chaplain, I came to notice something.  I would call it a particular “developmental phase” in a family’s adjustment to a member’s critical illness.  As humans, we tend to be most calm when everything is in its proper place, and matters are more or less...

  • Shrouded in Mystery - A Look at the Well-Dressed Jewish Corpse

    April 27, 2016 | 3:41 am

    [Ed. Note: The following is a more ‘formal’ presentation, something we will present here in the blog on occasion. This entry looks at how we dress our deceased. We know that today customs vary from place to place, and we see that is  apparently true through time as well. This entry...

  • Clearing Chametz in Life with the Dead

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    April 20, 2016 | 9:58 am

    Passover begins in two days. In preparation, many of us have been engaged in a process of finding, cleaning, using up, donating, storing, selling, burning, or otherwise getting rid of the chametz (leavened foodstuff) in our homes, cars, businesses, cabinets, and even pockets. Some...

  • As A Secular Jew, Why Should I Care About Jewish Death Rituals?

    April 13, 2016 | 4:44 am

    When I was growing up in Gunnison, Colorado in the 1950’s, we were secular Jews who traveled by car driving some four hours to Denver once each year, to attend High Holiday services at Temple Emanuel, a large Reform synagogue.  I was Bar Mitzvahed there – and I use the word as a...

  • Accepting the end - Jewish rules for the last moments of life

    April 5, 2016 | 7:39 am

    [This article previously appeared in the Health section of the LA Jewish Journal on March 7, 2016. It seems appropriate to repeat it here in this blog as well because of the contents.  http://www.jewishjournal.com/health/article/accepting_the_end ---  Ed.]    


    The hospice...

  • Segmented Purim, Segmented Mourning

    March 23, 2016 | 4:35 am

     [With appreciation to Betsy Teutsch of Philadephia for earlier conversations on this topic. R.Tabak]

    Jews will soon be celebrating the raucous holiday of Purim, based on the biblical book of Esther, celebrating their rescue from planned destruction with masquerades and parodies,...

  • THAT Taharah: Dying to Serve & Serving to Live

    March 16, 2016 | 4:00 am

    [Editor’s note: Most of the entries in this blog focus primarily on the deceased, or on the mourners, because that is the nature of the mitzvah. Here we are given a view of how the work of the Chevrah Kadisha impacts those who engage in this particular aspect of our human dance...

  • Offering Spontaneous Comfort at the Hospital

    March 9, 2016 | 5:27 am

    “Hi, my name is Dan. I’m a Spiritual Care Volunteer here at the hospital. I’m stopping by to see how you are; to chat, to offer support, to pray, to hear what’s keeping your spirit strong or what’s holding it back.”

    That, more or less, is the opening gambit I use as I enter...

  • The Blessing of Being There

    March 2, 2016 | 4:01 am

    So often, when we think of Jewish Burial, we think of Taharah, the washing and dressing of the body. I would like us to consider that the other part of traditional practice, sitting shomer, siting as a guard, is equally as important and can have a profound effect on your community....

  • A Tiny Heart

    February 24, 2016 | 5:00 am

    My phone rings at all hours of the day and night. As the face of our community’s Chevrah Kadisha, I am on call to arrange the pickup of deceased, provide information and reassurance to families, solve problems, and sometimes to serve as a bridge between a family and the cemetery....

  • The Life and Death of the Friendly Casket Company

    February 17, 2016 | 3:58 am

    Our chevrah kadisha had a long and established relationship with a local casket maker, who suddenly went out of business about two years ago. Until that time, our caskets had been of consistent quality and price; a dark blue flocked material covering pressboard with plastic nails...

  • The Zen of a Chaplain’s Sacrilegious Remarks

    February 10, 2016 | 4:16 am

    Being a chaplain is a great career for people who like to skip the small talk and get straight to what is on a person’s mind. I was meeting Kenneth for the first time last week, one of the newly admitted patients in the hospice residence. He was in bed, a thin white beard vainly...

  • Everybody deserves a death ritual

    February 3, 2016 | 4:00 am

    Everybody deserves a death ritual, especially given the negativity placed upon death in the Western world. Memorial services and, for the most part, funerals, are for the living.  Taharot are for the ones whose bodies have recently died. Judaism declares that a taharah is a way for...

  • Unveiling a Monument, Building a Memory

    January 28, 2016 | 6:52 am

    Although I am a rabbi now, I did not grow up in a family that practiced. My first experiences with unveilings were ones I did myself, following what I had learned in rabbinical school and from Rabbis Manuals.

    Now, I am a hospice chaplain, and a few weeks ago, I accompanied a...

  • To Plan, or Not to Plan…  by Rabbi Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs

    January 20, 2016 | 8:19 pm

    I have no idea if my e-mail box being inundated with various and sundry Insurance companies trying to sell burial insurance to me means they know something I don't - or is it merely the season for such advertising?

    The proposals to sell their product all seem to offer valuable...

  • How’re We Doing?

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    January 13, 2016 | 7:58 am

    Expired and Inspired debuted on June 9th 2014. There have been 88 posts in the thirty months since then up to this one. Almost every posting has been a gem (at least, in my humble opinion), a tiny jewel that served as a prism, focusing a beautiful light on to the topic it...

  • His Face

    January 6, 2016 | 3:12 am

    [Editor’s Note: 18 students of the Gamliel Institute, the leadership training arm of Kavod v’Nichum, having successfully completed all courses and requirements as part of the certification process by the Gamliel Institute, participated in, and recently returned from, the first ever...

  • Death Cafés & Freedom – Your Beliefs, My Rights

    December 30, 2015 | 3:53 am

    [Editor’s Note: This is the next blog entry that looks at topics in the realms of ‘Planned Dying’, Suicide, ‘Assisted Suicide’, Euthanasia, a ‘right to die’, gender and sexuality issues, and other topics that may be controversial, emotionally challenging, or spark disagreement....

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