Isn’t it depressing? by Rena Boroditsky
[Ed. Note: Republished from an earlier time. — JB]
Isn’t it Depressing?
People say to me, “I don’t understand how you do your job,” or,”What’s it like to be surrounded by death all the time? Isn’t it depressing?”
It’s not depressing, but it can be sad. Those of us behind the scenes, the Shomrim who sit vigil with our loved ones, the members of the Chevrah Kadisha who reverently wash, purify and dress our loved ones..we feel the sadness.
We notice when families have one loss after another. We see the connections and overlap between families, and we see the ripple effect of death in the community. We often have personal connections to and memories of the deceased. It is a privilege for us to be able to serve in time of need. Death is very intimate. We see a slice of a family’s life at a very private and painful time.
And we feel immense sadness as we care for those who have no family and few friends. It is truly humbling and heartbreaking to attend a funeral where no one actually knows the deceased. Many of our staff also volunteer as pallbearers and minyanaires, to make sure that every individual is buried with respect and compassion, far above and beyond the call of duty.
On Rosh Hashana, or cleaning my house for Pesach, or lighting the Chanukah candles with my family, I remember the women I have cared for. My heart feels the heaviness of families facing their first Yom tov (holiday) without their mother, Baba, bubbe, auntie, sister.
When I light my Shabbat candles, my thoughts always include an acknowledgment of women no longer “benching licht“, their physical light in this realm literally extinguished. I like to believe that their “soul lights” continue to illuminate and guide their families … not far away … just beyond the veil of our understanding.
Rena Boroditsky is the Executive Director of the Chesed Shel Emes, the non-profit Jewish funeral chapel and Chevrah Kadisha in Winnipeg, Canada. For fifteen years, she has been a student and teacher of end-of-life Jewish rituals. Rena has been recognized in her community for her service. Rena has led sessions at Kavod v’Nichum conferences and at Limmud events in the US & Canada. She launched Death Cafe Winnipeg. She has served in past and presently as a board member of Kavod v’Nichum. She has been a lecturer and student in the Gamliel Institute. She is engaged in developing additional courses for advanced Gamliel Insitute students. Rena is a member of the first graduating class of the Gamliel Institute, having completed the required studies and projects, and she participated in the inaugural Israel Study Mission, the heart of the sixth course in the Gamliel Institute curriculum, International Perspectives.
TASTE OF GAMLIEL
In 2017, Kavod v’Nichum and the Gamliel Institute are again sponsoring a six part “Taste of Gamliel” webinar. This year’s topic is From Here to Eternity: Jewish Views on Sickness and Dying.
Each 90 minute session is presented by a different scholar.
Taste of Gamliel Webinars for this year are scheduled on January 22, February 19, March 19, April 23, May 21, and June 25. The instructors this year are: Dr. Dan Fendel, Rabbi Dayle Friedman, Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, Rabbi Richard Address, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, and Dr. Laurie Zoloth.
This series of Webinar sessions is free, with a suggested minimum donation of $36 for all six sessions. These online sessions begin at 5 PM PST; 8 PM EST.
Those registered will be sent the information on how to connect to the sessions, and will also receive information on how to access the recordings of all six sessions.
More info – Call us at 410-733-3700
Click the link to register and for more information. We’ll send you the directions to join the webinar no less than 12 hours before the session.
KAVOD v’NICHUM CONFERENCE
Plan to join us June 18-20, 2017 for the 15th annual Kavod v’Nchum Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference. Register, and make your hotel reservations and travel plans now!
15th Annual North American Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference At Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, California June 18-20, 2017
Registration is now open. Group discounts are available.
The conference program will include plenaries and workshops focused on Taharah, Shmirah, Chevrah Kadisha organizing, community education, gender issues, cemeteries, text study and more.
The conference is on Sunday from noon until 10pm, on Monday from 7am to 10pm, and on Tuesday from 7am to 1pm. In addition to Sunday brunch, we provide six Kosher meals. There are many direct flights to San Francisco and Oakland, with numerous options for ground transportation to the conference site.
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GAMLIEL INSTITUTE COURSES
Gamliel Institute will be offering course 2, Chevrah Kadisha: Taharah & Shmirah, online, evenings, in the Fall semester starting September 5th, 2017.
The course will meet on twelve Tuesdays (Thursdays in those weeks with Jewish holidays during this course). There will be an orientation session on Monday, September 4th, 2017. Register or contact us for more information.
For more information, visit the Gamliel Institute website, or look at information on the Gamliel Institute at the Kavod v’Nichum website or on the Gamliel.Institute website. Please contact us for information or assistance. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 410-733-3700, or 925-272-8563.
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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, 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) organizations, 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.
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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, Shomrim, funeral providers, funeral homes and mortuaries, and operators and maintainers of cemeteries.