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Tag: Taharah

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  • Everybody deserves a death ritual

    3 days 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

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  • 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” -...

  • “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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Encountering familiar strangers

    July 15, 2015 | 4:00 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...

  • What A Graduation!

    July 1, 2015 | 4:00 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...

  • Expired and Inspired On the Road

    By Rabbi Joe Blair

    June 24, 2015 | 3:41 am

    Recently, for several weeks, I published this blog from ‘on the road’. The reason for the travel is related to the blog, and I thought it might be worthwhile to let readers know, because some of the upcoming entries in the weeks ahead will be as a result of that travel.

    If you...

  • The Recipe for Cheese Pie

    June 19, 2015 | 6:19 am

    Shavuot had me in the mood for a good cheese pie. Not a NY cheesecake, but an old fashioned cake my mom used to make with cake on top and bottom and a cottage cheese filling in between. I haven't made one for years, having long ago mastered the art of the cheese blintz.

    Nostalgia...

  • What is a Ritual?

    June 10, 2015 | 2:34 pm

    What makes a Ritual (what is called a Cultural Pattern by the American Anthropologist Dr. Clifford Geertz) is the ability to tell a particular type of story - one that explains ourselves to ourselves, and gives power and resonance to a collective vision.

    It is thru ritual and...

  • Sometimes we bend the Rules

    May 20, 2015 | 3:26 am

    A couple of months ago we got called to do a Taharah on a pre-term twin. One twin lived, and is a beautiful baby girl. The other one died, and we prepared her with love. My partner knew the family, and they asked her to do the Taharah for them.

    I made a little blanket, and the...

  • Remembering Life by Jean Berman

    April 22, 2015 | 1:27 pm

    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

    April 15, 2015 | 3:13 am

    [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?

    April 8, 2015 | 3:11 am

    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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

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