“Chew” by Carren S. Oler (June 20, 2017)
[Ed. Note: There have accrued over the centuries some folk practices, local beliefs, superstitions, and customs around issues of dying and death in the Jewish world. This poem touches on just one of these that is fairly widespread among those with connections to certain parts of the world. Enjoy. — JB]
For Zayda’s visits from time to time
From a different city,
We children were excited
And wanted to wear our best
To look pretty.
Zayda was a tailor and never far
From needle, thread, and thimble
In the pocket of his ever-present vest
One inside the other, a carefully placed nest.
I rushed to hug him
And wasn’t so nimble
(I was eight) and snagged my sleeve
On the lamp table
Not able to stop my skip and hop.
I was shocked, sure my mother would be mad.
(It was the newest blouse I had!)
“Sh, Sh” Zayda gestured, “Come here.”
And as I came near, he said,
“Chew?” What could be stranger?
But I felt I was in real danger.
So I stood there and chewed.
And in no time my mood
Lifted as he sewed my sleeve
With perfect, even stitches.
And my mother never knew
Or so I thought then….
Sometime later (months? years?)
After my fears abated,
I asked my mother why,
When sewing my sleeve,
Zayda told me to “chew”…
She laughed and wasn’t shy
About the explanation she knew.
“Zayda belongs to the Chevrah Kadisha
And is one of the tailors who sews
Tachrichim (shrouds) on those who have died.
And he says we cannot hide
From the Angel of Death who hovers…
BUT, if he is sewing on one who chews,
It’s not news that such a person lives.
And the Angel of Death is chased away
And cannot stay.”
Years later, as I was starting to sew a button
Back on my then young son’s sleeve,
You can best believe
That the first thing I said to him was,
Carren S. Oler, Esq.
Freelance Paralegal; Previously in private law practice with an emphasis on general litigation, family law, dispute resolution, mediation and collaborative law. Retired from legal practice following a breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and chemotherapy at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently and gratefully in remission.
Shmira Coordinator: Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington, February 2017 to date; Program provided 246.5 Shomer hours in May 2017. Chevrah Kadisha member at two Maryland synagogues; occasional Taharah trainer.
GAMLIEL INSTITUTE COURSES
LOOKING FORWARD: UPCOMING COURSE
The Gamliel Institute will be offering course 2, Chevrah Kadisha: Taharah & Shmirah, online, afternoons/evenings, in the Fall semester, starting September 5th, 2017. This is the core course focusing on Taharah and Shmirah, ritual, liturgy, practical matters, how-to, and what it means.
The course will meet online for twelve Tuesdays (the day will be adjusted in any weeks with Jewish holidays during this course).
There is a Free preview/overview of the course being offered on Monday August 14th at 5 pm PDST/8 pm EDST. You are welcome to join us to see if this course is one in which you would like to enroll. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to connect to the preview webinar.
There will be an orientation session on how to use the platform and access the materials on Monday, September 4th, 2017, also at 5 pm PDST/8 pm EDST online. Register or contact us for more information.
Information on attending the online orientation and course will be sent to those registered.
For more information, visit the Gamliel Institute website, or at the Kavod v’Nichum website. Please contact us for information or assistance by email email@example.com, or phone at 410-733-3700.
Donations are always needed and most welcome to support the work of Kavod v’Nichum and the Gamliel Institute, helping us to bring you the conference, offer community trainings, provide scholarships to students, refurbish and update course materials, expand our teaching, support programs such as Taste of Gamliel, the Gamliel Café, and the Gamliel Gracuates courses, provide and add to online resources, encourage and support communities in establishing, training, and improving their Chevrah Kadisha, and assist with many other programs and activities.
You can donate online at http://jewish-funerals.org/gamliel-institute-financial-support or by snail mail to: either Kavod v’Nichum, or to The Gamliel Institute, both c/o David Zinner, Executive Director, Kavod v’Nichum, 8112 Sea Water Path, Columbia, MD 21045. Kavod v’Nichum [and the Gamliel Institute] is a recognized and registered 501(c)(3) organization, and donations may be tax-deductible to the full extent provided by law. Call 410-733-3700 if you have any questions or want to know more about supporting Kavod v’Nichum or the Gamliel Institute.
You can also become a member (Individual or Group) of Kavod v’Nichum to help support our work. Click here (http://www.jewish-funerals.org/money/).
If you would like to receive the periodic Kavod v’Nichum Newsletter by email, or be added to the Kavod v’Nichum Chevrah Kadisha & Jewish Cemetery email discussion list, please be in touch and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check out the Kavod V’Nichum website at www.jewish-funerals.org, and for information on the Gamliel Institute, courses planned, and student work in this field also visit the Gamliel.Institute website.
RECEIVE NOTICES WHEN THIS BLOG IS UPDATED!
SUBMISSIONS ALWAYS WELCOME
If you have an idea for an entry you would like to submit to this blog, please be in touch. Email J.email@example.com. We are always interested in original materials that would be of interest to our readers, relating to the broad topics surrounding the continuum of Jewish preparation, planning, rituals, rites, customs, practices, activities, and celebrations approaching the end of life, at the time of death, during the funeral, in the grief and mourning process, and in comforting those dying and those mourning, as well as the actions and work of those who address those needs, including those serving in Bikkur Cholim, Caring Committees, the Chevrah Kadisha, as Shomrim, funeral providers, in funeral homes and mortuaries, and operators and maintainers of cemeteries.
For much of Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky’s talk last Shabbat afternoon on “Speaking Truth to Power,” I got really pumped up. The leader of Bnai David...
It was fitting that a panel discussion I recently attended — titled, “Politically Homeless in the Age of Extremes” — took place on Bleecker Street...
I spent my Rosh Hashanah this year in Uman, Ukraine, where a remarkable Jewish phenomenon continues to unfold: the Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave...
[caption id="attachment_239170" align="aligncenter" width="1800"] Photo from Wilderness Torah[/caption] By During Sukkot — zman simchateinu — everything we acknowledged with awe and trepidation during the Days...
It goes without saying that in every profession there is a hierarchy — a system where those in authority wield varying degrees of power over...
At this moment, I can see the sky through the holes in my roof. That’s not because I’m celebrating the holiday of Sukkot early. It’s...
It wasn’t exactly the pampering honeymoon I’d had in mind. With no electricity, no running water and no bathroom to speak of, this was about...
How do you solve a problem like Jeremy Corbyn? I just returned from England, and everyone is concerned. An anti-Zionist prime minister might be elected,...
It is not easy to ditch orthodoxies — and not always advisable. This is as true for the political arena as it is for religion....
One of my closest friends from childhood, who is of Russian descent, was recently at my 3-year-old daughter’s birthday party here in Los Angeles. After...
I pray that I will find humility When I’m sure I am right. I pray that I will find compassion When my heart feels indifference....
One question, five answers. Edited by Salvador Litvak, Accidental Talmudist If you could invite anyone to your sukkah, who would it be? Rivkah Slonim Education Director, the Rohr...
By the time sukkot rolls around, many home cooks may be feeling burned out from the constant stream of preparations they have been making for...
During Sukkot, we gather with in our temporary structures (sukkot) meant to recall those used by the children of Israel after they left Egypt and...
Sukkahs are governed by laws of halachah. They need to cast more shade than they allow in sunlight. Walls that move in the wind are...
Act.il, a smartphone app that urges its users to take action against online anti-Semitic content, has received a $190,000 grant from the Jewish Community Foundation...
Editor’s note: Over Rosh Hashanah, local rabbis spoke on a variety of topics, but three in particular took aim at the policies of President Donald...
An airplane encounters severe turbulence midflight and lands safely. When the passengers disembark, they’re astonished to discover that five years have passed. This intriguing scenario...
As a skinny teenager growing up in a working-class neighborhood southeast of London where Jews were the minority, Steve Spiro was beaten and bullied on...
Every year, 1,700 of the best and brightest high school students from 80 countries compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). At stake...
New Year, New Questions Another wonderful editor’s note (“Happy New Questions,” Sept. 7). It is an invitation to readers to ask themselves even the toughest...
“My prognosis for the Jewish future is grim,” announces Tal Keinan at the very outset of “God Is In the Crowd: Twenty-First Century Judaism” (Spiegel...
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has honored Annette and Leonard Shapiro with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. At a gala dinner on Sept....
Debra Agam died Aug. 25 at 63. Survived by daughter Karen (Dan Freedman) Agam Macarah; son Nathan (Kimberly); 5 grandchildren; mother Ruth Fine; sister Cricket...
I have to confess that when it comes to decorating the sukkah, I like to hang large garlands. They make a much bigger impact than...
After years of working in advertising, Michele Prince decided to go back to school to pursue a joint master’s degree in social work and Jewish...
Events this week include Trybal gatherings, Volunteer fairs, honey tasting and events for Sukkot. THU SEP 27 [caption id="attachment_239313" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Bari Weiss[/caption] Bari Weiss New...