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Tag: Taharah

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  • Our Interfaith Taharah

    2 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

    3 weeks ago

    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...

  • 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...

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  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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 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....

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Fight Nicely

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    May 28, 2014 | 1:30 am

    “Fight nicely” is an admonition my sister and I received frequently as we were growing up. It always struck me as an odd thing for an adult to say to a child. Shouldn’t they have been telling us to stop fighting? Now that I’m older, it makes a lot of sense. As human beings, we’re...

  • Unexpected Grief

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    January 22, 2014 | 12:30 am

    Late last week my husband’s parents called to let us know that my husband’s cousin had died unexpectedly. I had never met this cousin, so, although I expected to comfort my husband for his loss, I didn’t expect to be doing any mourning myself. I was mistaken.

    Perhaps it was the...

  • 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...

  • Becoming Less Normal

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    May 29, 2013 | 8:00 am

    I’ve never really considered myself to be “normal.” What I mean by that is I’ve always felt different from most other people. It probably started with my toes. The second and third toe on each of my feet are joined about half way up. (They are not, I must clarify, webbed!) It...

  • 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...

  • I Make Plans. God Changes Them.

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    March 13, 2013 | 8:00 am

    I’m not big on making plans. I tend to be an in-the-moment kind of gal. And when I do make plans, I usually hedge. In general, I won’t say, “I’ll see you on Shabbat,” unless I add, “God willing.” Or I say, “Yes, I plan to be there,” rather than, “Yes, I will be there.”

    I do this...

  • Webinar on Taharah Leadership

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    February 20, 2013 | 7:00 am

    This week I, along with about 70 other people, participated in a webinar about taharah leadership given by Kavod v’Nichum. Taharah is the act of ritually washing and preparing a dead body for burial, and Kavod v’Nichum is an organization that, according to its website, “encourages...

  • The Holy Society -by Rabbi Hyim Shafner

    By Rabbi Hyim Shafner

    March 9, 2012 | 12:48 pm

    “Hyim we will need your help tonight with a tahara,” said my father.

    “But I have never done one,” I replied.

    “There are only two of us available, and I hear the man was heavy, bloated, so we will need you.”

    A tahara (literally “purification”) is the Jewish process of...

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