These I Remember by Isaac Pollak
[Ed. Note: This posting, These I Remember, is a reprise of an earlier entry in Expired And Inspired from a few years ago. I included a more recent item that Isaac mentioned not long ago. It seemed worth revisiting, particularly as it is still quite relevant. The title echoes a refrain from the High Holy Day litrurgy Memorial/Yizkor service – which we are approaching at the end of September. — JB].
These I Remember
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 Adar, when many Chevrei Kadisha choose to acknowledge their members), when my custom is to fast, ask forgiveness, and remember those for whom I have performed this mitzvah.
At those times I particularly recall:
– a 16 year old who drowned
– a 30 year old who died of AIDS
– a 40 year old heir to a Sephardic Rabbinic Dynasty who came to the States for treatment for a blood disease,
– an 8 month old little boy who had been abandoned by both parents.
– and most recently, a two-month-old child.
When I think of them, all I can say is that one’s heart goes out, one has no words or explanations, one cries with the families, and one feels G-d’s pain – as G-d says in Psalm 91 “I am with him in distress.” Ps. 91:15.
But at the same time, it makes us appreciate life all that much more, and we – all of us doing G-d’s work, all who serve as part of the Chevrah Kadisha – are better off for it. Despite the pain and the sadness we may encounter, we get so much more than we give.
Isaac Pollak is President and CEO of an international marketing business for almost 4 decades at this point. He holds graduate degrees in Marketing, Industrial Psychology, Art History, and Jewish Material Culture from City College, LIU, JTS, and Columbia University. He has been a student in the Gamliel Institute, and serves as a consultant to the institution. He has been the rosh/head of a Chevrah Kadisha on the upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC, for over 3 decades, and is an avid collector of Chevrah Kadisha material cultural items, having several hundred in his own collection. He serves as chairperson of the Acquisition Committee for Traditional Material Culture at the Jewish Museum in NYC. Born and raised in NYC, married, with 3 children and 3 grandchildren.
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 decide 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 online platform and access the materials on Monday, September 4th, 2017, 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.
Gamliel Students are invited to an informal online monthly session on the 3rd Wednedsays of most months. Each month, a different person will offer a short teaching or share some thoughts on a topic of interest to them, and those who are online will have a chance to respond, share their own stories and information, and build our Gamliel Institute community connections. This initiative is being headed up by Rena Boroditsky and Rick Light with some background support from Joe Blair. You should receive email reminders monthly.
Gamliel Graduate Courses
Graduates of the Gamliel Institute, and Gamliel students who have complete three or more Gamliel Institute courses are invited to be on the lookout for information to be sent out on a series of “Graduate’ Courses, advanced sessions on different topics. These will be in groups of three sessions each quarter (in three consecutive weeks), with different topics addressed in each series. The goal is to look at these topics in more depth than we were able during the core courses. The first two series tentatively planned will be on Psalms and on the Zohar. Registration will be required, and there will be a tuition charge to attend (more information to be sent soon). Heading this intiative is the dynamic duo of Rena Boroditsky and Rick Light. Contact them, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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.
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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.