Category Archives: chevra kadisha

Announcing an adult education class this spring

Death, mourning, and transformation

This three-session class, taught by Rabbi Rachel, will explore Jewish ideas, teachings, and rituals around death and mourning. We’ll explore texts both ancient and modern which will offer us different Jewish ideas about death and afterlife, taharah and burial, and kaddish and mourning customs. The class will meet at 10am on Sundays April 3, May 15, and June 5.

Price: $18 for CBI members, $36 for non-members. Register by emailing rabbibarenblat at gmail dot com.

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Toldot, and a special presentation on taharah.

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a (slightly belated) good week to you!

This week we’re reading the Torah portion called Toldot in the book of Bereshit (Genesis). The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services. If you would like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:

  • Toldot: Reform Commentaries (the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries)


This Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) for morning services will be rabbinic student Lori Shaller.

Don’t miss Kiddush learning on taharah with Reb Lori – On Shabbat morning, Saturday November 22, Reb Lori (rabbinic student Lori Shaller, returning to us from Martha’s Vineyard) will offer a special teaching relating to the subject of her teshuvah, the rabbinic-legal responsum which serves as her rabbinic school thesis — taharah. Taharah is the Hebrew word we use to mean preparing a body for burial, and it is a beautiful Jewish tradition. Come and learn!

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service hosts. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also extend thanks to our member Helene Armet for the beautiful home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!

Prayer for Cemetery Committee & Chevra Kadisha

Here is the prayer for our Cemetery Committee and our Chevra Kadisha which was offered during services this past Shabbat, on Shabbat Chayei Sarah, when we read about Avraham purchasing a burial plot and burying his wife Sarah.

Dear God,

We are grateful to You for instilling in us a love of life and a respect for death.

Today we honor those who serve on our Cemetery Committee and those who lovingly prepare the dead for burial through our Chevra Kadisha. These generous members of our holy community both serve You and honor us with their dedication and loving kindness to our beloved dead.

Through their commitment to the mitzvah of kavod ha-meit, honoring the dead, they also perform the mitzvah of nichum avelim, comforting the mourners, who are assured that their loved ones have been attended to with care and respect.

We thank You, God, for our rich, loving, and wise tradition which deepens our connections to Life, to the meaning of death, to community, and to You.


New Adult Learning Opportunity: Kaddish, Minyan, and Creating Community

A two-part class taught by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi Pam Wax
Thursday 10/24 at 7:30pm and Saturday 10/26 after services.

In this two-part class, we’ll learn about Jewish death/dying traditions, the history and practice of the mourner’s kaddish and why our tradition historically requires a minyan for that prayer, how to co-create community and the importance of “showing up,” and more!

On Thursday night (October 24) we will explore our community’s booklet Everlasting Life: A Guide to Jewish Death & Mourning Customs [pdf] and will learn about mourner’s kaddish and other prayers and practices relating to mourning. We’ll also learn a bit about shiva minyanim: what they are, how they work, why they matter.

On Saturday morning (October 26), after reading the Torah portion Chayyei Sarah (which includes the death and burial of the matriarch Sarah), we’ll learn some of the traditions which come out of that Torah portion, and we’ll explore some texts relating to cemeteries, mourning, and caring for each other. We’ll also honor our chevra kadisha and cemetery committees during that Shabbat morning service.

All are welcome; this class is free. Bring your questions about kaddish, minyan, death and dying! We look forward to exploring your questions, and some of our tradition’s answers, together.

Chevra kadisha resources

Many smalltown communities do not have a chevra kadisha, a “holy society” of members who lovingly wash, bless, and prepare for burial the bodies of those who have died. Here at CBI we are blessed to have volunteers who do this holy work. Our chevra kadisha was founded in 1895, and you can read more about it on the chevra kadisha page at our website.

This post contains a few resources for our chevra kadisha. We’re sharing them here both for our own use, and in case they might be useful to others.

  • TaharaPrayers [pdf] – a blessing to recite before beginning the process; also a prayer for the dead (“Ribbono Shel Olam / Source of all Being, be compassionate with…”)
  • Tahara-Instructions [pdf] – a simple one-page sheet which lists the steps of the taharah process as we practice it here
  • And here is a drawing which shows how to tie the special ש–shaped knots (below the extended-entry cut.)

May all who do this work be blessed; may all who grieve be comforted.
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