November 15, 2019

Looking Back Over Expired and Inspired

At 11:03 AM EST (8:03 PST) on June 9th, 2014, this blog debuted. At that time, I wrote  

What is this blog?

It is a blog about death and dying – and the Jewish ways thereof.

It is about the Jewish rituals, forms, customs, behavioral norms (and not-so-norms), about Jewish ideas and thoughts on and around this topic. It is about how Jews approach death and the dead, how they treat them, what they do, and how they do it.

It is about transforming a physical task into a holy act; bringing sanctity and compassion to souls who are in need of it.

It is really about caring for the dead and comforting the living; the sacred, loving work of helping to bring closure and peace at the end of life to those who have died, and comfort to those who care about them. 

Expired & Inspired” is  The topic of death and dying has long been taboo. Because death comes to all of us, and touches most of us in life, it needs to be open for discussion – though not in a morbid fashion: there are aspects of this part of life that are beautiful and touching.

The death of a loved one is sad, but the sacred, holy work in which we engage can be spiritual, loving, transformative, and life-affirming. Talking about it should not be ‘taboo’ or avoided. There is even room, at times, for humor, as well as awe, love, and honor, as we explore this universal part of life.

Expired & Inspired is intended to educate, reveal, and share stories in an interesting and compelling way about the people involved, and the Jewish process, rituals, and activities that include “>Chevrah Kadisha – the Holy Society that provides care for the deceased, and comfort for mourners and those bereaved. 

Accompany us as we draw back the curtain a bit, and let you see our work, the results of it, and how it affects those of us who do it, and others. Join us as we offer you an aspect, a viewpoint, a glimpse of the transformative power of the work we do. 

I believed in those words then, and I still do. As Editor of Expired And Inspired I have tried to stay true to what I told you. I have tried to offer a variety of information, viewpoints, attitudes, and opinions. In doing so, I have been fortunate in that others have generously and graciously written some wonderful articles for the blog, many of which I could not imagine finding anywhere else.  As of today, there have been 144 postings in the two and a half years we have been going. Some might point out that 144 is also known as a gross, and perhaps in the mind of some, that is an appropriate term for our topic.

Either way, I have had the honor and pleasure to hear from multiple of our readers over this span of time, and in most instances they were very appreciative of what we have offered.

At that same time, there have been some who pointed out how we had not done as well as we might, or how I had made decisions or choices as editor they did not agree with or like.

In all sincerity, I have deeply appreciated the comments of both praise and criticism. Each has helped me refine what I am doing, and sharpened my ability to make Expired and Inspired better, more relevant, and more informative.

I am therefore asking that you please continue to comment, sending both praise and criticism, and helping me to improve this blog.

Even better, I am asking anyone who has anything they want to share that touches on our topic to write it up and submit it to me for the blog. I can’t promise that everything will be printed, but there are a LOT of open weeks ahead in the years to come. 😉  A very sincere ‘thank you’ to all who have contributed, commented, and read.





Please Tell Anyone Who May Be Interested!

       Winter 2016:


Gamliel Institute Course 1, Chevrah Kadisha History, Origins, & Evolution (HOE) as planned will be offered over twelve weeks on Tuesday evenings. The schedule is from January 3rd, 2017 to March 21st, 2017, online.  


For those who register, there will be an orientation session on the Monday evening prior to the first class. It is intended 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 all be 5-6:30 pm PST/6-7:30 pm MST/7-8:30 CST/8-9:30 pm EST. [If you are in any other time zone, please determine the appropriate time, given local time and any Time Zone adjustments that may be necessary.]

Please note: the class meetings will be online, and will take place on Tuesday evenings (unless a Jewish holiday requires a change of date for a class session).


The focus of this course is on the history and development of the modern Chevrah Kadisha, the origins of current practices, and how the practices and organizations have changed to reflect the surrounding culture, conditions, and expectations. The course takes us through the various text sources (biblical, talmudic, rabbinic, and on) to seek the original basis of the Chevrah Kadisha, harking to Prague in the 1600’s, through the importation of the Chevrah Kadisha to America, and all the way to recent days. It is impossible to really understand how we came to the current point without a sense of the history.


Please register, note it on your calendar, and plan to attend the online sessions.

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.

The registration fee is $500.00 per person, but 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 “> A full description of all of the courses is found there.

For more information, visit the “>Kavod v’Nichum website or on the

Please contact us for information or assistance. or, or call 410-733-3700, or 925-272-8563.



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  


If you would like to receive the 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

You can also be sent an email link to the Expired And Inspired blog each week by sending a message requesting to be added to the distribution list to

Be sure to check out the Kavod V’Nichum website at “>Gamliel.Institute website.




Sign up on our Facebook Group page: just search for and LIKE “>@chevra_kadisha.

To find a list of other blogs and resources we think you, our reader, may find of interest, click on “About” on the right side of the page.There is a link at the end of that section to read more about us.

Past blog entries can be searched online at the L.A. Jewish Journal. Point your browser to  


If you have an idea for an entry you would like to submit to this blog, please be in touch. Email 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.