January 19, 2020

The Loss of the Temple and the Loss of Parents

[Ed. Note: The following was submitted partially in response to the recently published entry The Doorway of Tisha B’Av, August 17, 2016. — JB]


I cherish the years I have spent as a chaplain…honored to be accompanying people on difficult journeys.  Holding the hand of someone who has just lost a child, giving a hug to someone who just lost a parent, or crying with someone who just received devastating news. 

But, as long as these losses were NOT personal, there was always a certain degree of detachment…probably necessary to maintain sanity.

But few of us escape the inevitability of death amongst those close to us.  And so, when death comes knocking at our door…how the dynamics change!!!

When a parent dies, one can say that is expected and that is the correct order.  One might assume knowing the death of a parent is inevitable should take the edge off of the loss.   Should is the operative word.  WHY???  There are so many variables…the tenor of the relationship, the age of the parent, the health of the parent, etc.  Throw into the mix…accidents.  Preventable ones and tragic ones. Add murders and other violent deaths – mass shootings, bombings and terrorism and the ability and inability to cope, accept, mourn, and otherwise be face to face with the reality can run the gamut of acceptance, disbelief, anger and denial.

When I am questioned by a Dr. as to my family history – specifically – longevity – I am unable to answer.

Both my parents – years apart – died as a result of hospital error.  How does one internalize that deep sense of being gipped, robbed and horrified?? 

Yizkor, from a traditional sense, is the go to prayer for mourners on specific holidays.  Somehow – though I say the prayer with kavannah…it never quite does it.  What length of years would my parents have attained 75? 80? 90???  Knowing then temples were destroyed by outside forces actually brings a modicum of calm to my spirit as I realize my parents were also destroyed by outside forces…by those who had opportunity to make different choices…but didn’t.  I can liken my parents to the temples…they were spiritual, sacred and a “place” I could always go to seek guidance, help and hear words of Torah.  Their words were silenced…but to this day – 20 and 30 years later – I feel their guidance. And as we continue to remember and speak of the Temples that are no longer…I am sure MY parent know that their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren still invoke their names and deeds – though THEY, like the temples, are NO LONGER!!


Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs: I am from Brooklyn, currently living in NJ.  Having originally learned about Taharah as a yeshiva student, I knew I would participate as soon as the opportunity presented itself.  I have participated in doing Taharah for almost 30 years. I am currently the ROSHA of our chevrah. When not doing Taharah, I taught school – up until I retired and went back to school and became a chaplain. I held the Federation position of County (Mercer) Chaplain for 15 years. Married for 46 years, our two children have blessed us with grandchildren.





Please Tell Anyone Who May Be Interested!

                       Fall 2016:


Gamliel Institute Course 5, Chevrah Kadisha Ritual, Practices, & Liturgy (RPL) will be offered over twelve weeks from September 6th, 2016 to November 22nd 2016 online.

There will be an orientation session on Monday September 5th for those unfamiliar with the online course platform used, all who have not taken a Gamliel Institute course recently, and those who have not used an online webinar/class presentation tool in past.

Class times will be 5-6:30 pm PDST/6-7:30 pm MDST/7-8:30 CDST/8-9:30 pm EDST. If you are in any other time zone, please determine the appropriate time, given local time and any Daylight Savings Time adjustments necessary.

Please note: the class meetings will be online, and will take place on the Tuesdays of September 6, 13, 20, 27, November 15, and 22. The remainder of the twelve class meetings will be on Thursdays (due to the Jewish Holidays) of October 6, 13, 20, 27, November 3, and 10. 

The focus of this course is on Jewish practices and all ritual and liturgy (excluding Taharah & Shmirah, which are covered in Course 2). This deals specifically with liturgy, ritual, and practice towards and at the end of life, at the moment of death, in preparation for the funeral, during the funeral, the rituals of mourning, and rituals and practices of remembrance. 


There is no prerequisite for this course; you are welcome to take it with no prior knowledge or experience, though interest in the topic is important. Please register, note it on your calendar, and plan to attend the online sessions. Note that there are registration discounts available for three or more persons from the same organization, and for clergy and students. There are also some scholarship funds available on a ‘need’ basis. Contact us (information below) with any questions.

You can “>jewish-funerals.org/gamreg. A full description of all of the courses is there as well. For more information, visit the “>Kavod v’Nichum website or on the

Please contact us for information or assistance. info@jewish-funerals.org or j.blair@jewish-funerals.org, or call 410-733-3700, or 925-272-8563.



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