Jewish Journal

Tag: Kavod V’nichum

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  • The Zen of a Chaplain’s Sacrilegious Remarks

    7 hours ago

    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

    1 week ago

    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

    2 weeks ago

    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

    3 weeks ago

    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....

  • Chevrah Kadisha: A Thankless Task?

    December 23, 2015 | 3:21 am

    Those of us who volunteer in a chevrah kadisha, a group which, among other things, both ritually and physically prepares dead people for burial, are often told that what we are doing is a “chesed shel emet,” or a true act of lovingkindness. In fact, “Chesed Shel Emet” is even the...

  • Sacred Undertaking

    December 16, 2015 | 4:10 am

    [Author’s Note: Some time back I led a Tahara and afterward had an interesting experience. (When we do this work, we hold a short meeting/briefing for the Tahara team before and after the Tahara itself, to make sure everyone on the team is emotionally and physically healthy.) In...

  • Snorkeling Into Death

    December 9, 2015 | 3:30 am

    We began to descend, the plane broke through the clouds, and the jungle floor appeared. As we banked, glimpses of the unbelievable Caribbean blue through the windows on the other side of the plane. Less than 24 hours later, I would be exploring a new cove of my beloved sanctuary of...

  • Exploring Jewish Reasons for Ground Burial – An Alphabetic Acrostic

    December 2, 2015 | 3:32 am

    Many Jews are asking if cremation is an acceptable alternate to in-ground burial. Isn't cremation simple and inexpensive? Isn't cremation quick and the least burden on my children? Jewish educators and funeral homes serving Jews report rapid increases in Jews asking about, and...

  • Astonished in the Swirl of Existence

    November 25, 2015 | 3:46 am

    [Editor's Note: This seemed a good entry for the Thanksgiving holiday (in the U.S., it is November 26th this year). We at Kavod v'Nichum wish all, whether you celebrate the event this week, at another time, or not at all, a time of blessings; love, plenty, prosperity, health, and...

  • Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

    November 19, 2015 | 6:38 am

    My favorite Torah story when I work with people facing the uncertainty of a grave illness or death is the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. (Genesis 32.) Jacob’s facing mortality was not due to illness. He was worried that his brother Esau might be planning to murder him in...

  • Picking up the dead

    November 11, 2015 | 9:40 am

    I work in the community Chevrah Kadisha of Vancouver BC, and besides sitting Shmirah, performing Taharah, and filling in for burial and unveiling Minyan, one of my responsibilities involves picking up the deceased from their place of death. This can involve care homes, hospitals,...

  • “How to Die”

    November 4, 2015 | 3:19 am

    From chasidic writers to hospice workers, there is a notion called, “a good death.” This seems to imply a death with dignity and without excessive pain. However, there are those who actually consider dying a mitzvah to be done with thought and intention. Perhaps it’s a bit...


    October 28, 2015 | 3:38 am

    [Editor's note: This piece was submitted in response to the one published last week on Abraham's Children, concerning Jews and Muslims working together with regard to the sacred rituals related to preparing our dead for burial. This piece expands on that by way of a 'drash'.] 


  • Abraham’s Children: How Muslim and Jewish Burial Practices Can Help Bring Peace

    October 21, 2015 | 3:35 am

    In the Biblical story of the death of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac come together to bury their father. Then Isaac goes to live in peace with Ishmael. Many millennia later …

    • thousands of Jews across the United States and Canada volunteer their time and energy to perform the...
  • Eight Hearts for the Chevrah – Letters After a Taharah

    October 14, 2015 | 3:35 am

    I “co-ordinate” the Women’s Chevrah Kadisha. (That means I schedule Taharot: send out e-notification of need, poll members as to availability, make certain the Taharah room is available during the time we can assemble a team of at least four. We do not have a designated “Rosh” -...

  • What are we doing when we sit Shiva?

    October 7, 2015 | 3:49 am

    Sitting shiva [the Jewish custom of a period of intense mourning during the first seven days following the death and funeral] can be understood from a multiple of vantage points. It can be seen anthropologically as a tradition of how the Jewish people respond to a death. It can be...

  • “You’re a Member of a What?!”

    September 30, 2015 | 3:29 am

    “Somebody’s got to do it,” we muse when we hear about someone pursuing a career or activity we cannot fathom doing ourselves. Funeral directors, hospice workers, chevrah kadisha members (Jewish burial societies) and others in contact with death get this sort of reaction on...

  • Torah Animals and Death Practices: The Scapegoat, the Red Heifer, and the Broken-necked Heifer

    September 23, 2015 | 3:40 am

    Rambam says that some rules are “Supra-rational” – these are rules that appear irrational and beyond our logical understanding. He gives as examples three practices regarding animals - the Azazel, the Parah Adumah, and the Eglah Arufah. But is there any rationality, maybe some...

  • What does God Judge

    September 16, 2015 | 3:17 am

    In the Yom Kippur liturgy, many of us recite a familiar phrase — ‘on Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed’ — but how many of us believe the literal meaning? So much seems random and unknowable that we really have no idea whether anything we do or say can...

  • My Jewish Death

    September 9, 2015 | 3:39 am

    Imagine if you will, a middle aged Jewish mother laying comfortably on her back. She feels cocooned in softness.  It’s quiet.  Above her, a brilliant blue sky, a few puffy white clouds drift by. Birds, leaves rustling. She watches the sunlight through lush leaves, a hundred shades...

  • Promoting Options for the Dying

    September 2, 2015 | 3:25 am

    [Editor’s Note: This is the second of two or more entries looking at topics in the realms of ‘Planned Dying’, Suicide, ‘Assisted Suicide’, Euthanasia, and a ‘right to die’. These entries look at the subject from different perspectives. The thoughts expressed are those of the...


    August 26, 2015 | 3:25 am

    [Editor’s Note: This is the first of two (or more) entries looking at topics in the realms of ‘Planned Dying’, Suicide, ‘Assisted Suicide’, Euthanasia, and a ‘right to die’. These two entries look at the subject from different perspectives. The thoughts expressed are those of the...

  • Taharah for a Child

    August 19, 2015 | 3:30 am

    My youngest grandson is four years old.  I have been a member of our Chevrah Kadisha for over 15 years (I am one of the “charter” members).  We live in a relatively small Jewish community and perform a Taharah only about three or four times a year.  When we do a Taharah, it is...

  • A Response to Ritual: Washing The Dead

    August 12, 2015 | 3:25 am

                I believe that as writers, if we are writing from a good place and we get extremely lucky, the stories we toss out into the world will come back to us in the form of more stories, a call and response of sorts.  

                My novel, Washing the Dead, brings forth the...

  • Unwelcome Guests

    August 5, 2015 | 4:00 am

    Perhaps the most unwanted guests in the world are Disease, Death, and Other Losses. According to some researchers, that is one of several metaphors that people use to cope with the inevitable. An unwelcome guest does not sound like a very palatable way to deal with disease, but...

  • Brit v’Chesed

    July 29, 2015 | 4:00 am

         “Kindness is the overflowing of one’s self into the lives of others” (anonymous)

    Chesed: mercy, compassion, kindness, grace, steadfastness, faithfulness.

    Chesed encompasses all these components, and more. It denotes a love stemming from loyalty and commitment. In the Old...

  • You can’t take it with you – And Socks are Forever?

    July 22, 2015 | 4:00 am

    "You can’t take it with you.”

    I’m certain we’ve all heard this expression and come to understand that we enter this world with nothing, and similarly leave property-less. In my family’s case, this saying took an interesting twist when my father passed away.

    To understand, it is...

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