When I was old enough to think about my own burial, I decided that I wanted to be cremated. How much room is there in cities for more cemeteries? It seemed the right choice.
Over the years, the funerals I attended were usually coffins in the ground. Occasionally, there was a small container with the remains of a cremation.
When my step-mother died, I discovered that she wanted to be cremated. The funeral director asked if anyone wanted to be present at the cremation. A dear friend of my step-mother and myself agreed to attend. They took us down to the lower level where the crematorium is located. There she was in a plain wood coffin. Her friend and I held hands over the coffin. We cried, prayed, and said good-bye to our beloved Sarah.
We were then asked if we wanted to press the button that would start the conveyer belt moving. As we pressed the button, the metal doors opened, and her coffin began to roll forward. Ahead was what looked to me like a black, smoking inferno, with flames jetting out of one side. Her box rolled into this black pit, and then the doors closed.
When I thought of Sarah's soft, smooth skin, and her lovely, thick hair being burnt, I was distraught. This was her decision but as I stood there and witnessed the process, I couldn't bear to think of her being burned and ground down to a powder. At the cemetery, a small box with her remains was placed in the ground next to mother.
I respect her decision to be cremated, but I knew that I had to reconsider my burial plans. It's not easy to imagine how to deal with one's body after death. It's a difficult decision to make, but as I recalled her coffin going into the fiery, dark inferno, I knew that my original decision would now change.
TASTE OF GAMLIEL
From Here to Eternity: Jewish Views on Sickness and Dying.
In 2017, Kavod v'Nichum and the Gamliel Institute are again sponsoring a five part “Taste of Gamliel” webinar. This year's topic is From Here to Eternity: Jewish Views on Sickness and Dying. Last year's Taste of Gamliel topic was Jewish beliefs about the Afterlife.
Each 90 minute session is presented by a different scholar. Taste of Gamliel gives participants a “Taste” of the Gamliel Institute's web-based series of courses. The Gamliel Institute is the leadership training arm of Kavod v'Nichum. The Institute, offers five on-line courses, each 12 weeks in length, that deal with the various aspects of Jewish ritual around sickness, death, funerals, burial and mourning. Participants come from all over the United States and Canada.
Webinars are on January 22, February 19, March 19, April 23, and May 21. Learn from the comfort of your home or office.
The Taste sessions are done in a webinar format, where the teacher and students can see each other’s live video feeds. The sessions are moderated, we mute participants, ask them to raise their virtual hands with questions, and call on and unmute participants when appropriate. We've been teaching using this model for seven years (more than 250 session). We use Zoom, a particularly friendly tool.
Webinar sessions are free, with a suggested minimum donation of $36 for all five sessions. Online sessions are 60-90 minutes. Sessions begin at 5 PM PST; 8 PM EST.
Those registered will be sent the information on how to connect to the sessions. The link to ” target=”_blank”>http://jewish-funerals.givezooks.com/events/taste-of-gamliel-2017
Information and technology assistance is available after you register.
You can view a recording of the sessions after each session.
More info – Call us at 410-733-3700
Attend as many of these presentations as are of interest to you. Each session is between 60 and 90 minutes in duration. As always, there will be time for questions and discussions at the end of each program.
The entire series is free, but we ask that you make a minimum donation of $36 for the five sessions.
GAMLIEL INSTITUTE COURSES
Gamliel Institute will be offering course 4, Nechama [Comfort], online, evenings in the Spring on Tuesdays (and three Thursdays – the day of the week will change in those weeks with Jewish holidays during this course). The date of classes will be from March 28 to June 13 2017. Please note: due to holidays, classes will meet on Thursdays on April 13th, April 20th, and June 1st. There will be an orientation session on Monday, March 27th, 2017.
If you are not sure if the Nechama course is for you, plan to attend the Free one-time online PREVIEW of Nechama session planned for the Monday evening March 6th, 2017 at 8-9:30 pm EST. The instructors will offer highlights from the material that the course covers, and let you know what the course includes.
You can “>jewish-funerals.org/gamreg. A full description of all of the courses is found there.
KAVOD v’NICHUM CONFERENCE
Looking ahead, hold June 18-20, 2017 for the 15th annual Kavod v’Nchum Chevrah Kadisha and Cemetery Conference, scheduled for San Rafael, CA.
Donations are always needed and most welcome. Donations support the work of Kavod v’Nichum and the Gamliel Institute, helping us provide scholarships to students, refurbish and update course materials, expand our teaching, support programs such as Taste of Gamliel, 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 You can also become a member (Individual or Group) of Kavod v’Nichum to help support our work. Click
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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.firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, Shomrim, funeral providers, funeral homes and mortuaries, and operators and maintainers of cemeteries.