death

Transformations of the Soul: The Tahara Experience

First Published in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice

Judaism most often approaches the soul's many transformations on the "journey called life" by including rituals of chessed. These involve expressions of overflowing loving kindness via water, washing, immersion.

Creating New Jewish Ritual for a Big Birthday

I've never been one to hold birthday parties for myself, but turning sixty felt like the time had finally arrived. I needed a way to transition my soul's balking sense of terror. Where did all of the equanimity from my meditation and other spiritual practices go in the face of all that? How to push through towards hopefully, the gift of a new decade? [video coming soon]

Jewish Death and Dying: Prayer for Hearing of a Death

When we hear someone has died, we need a way to express ourselves. Jewish tradition provides a very powerful and brief sacred phrase: baruch dayan ha'emet (pronounced bah-rukh, dah-yahn, hah'eh-meht). This phrase seems to be the bare minimum of a blessing, truncated from our usual blessing form, as many as twelve terms short*; cut down, as has been a life.

What does this phrase mean?

A Tahara How-to Story

Long before I became a rabbi, a young social work colleague and mother of three was dying of a particularly virulent form of breast cancer. She called me one day to ask if we could meet privately because she had something to share and a favor to ask.

We met on the king-sized bed in her bedroom. She looked skeletal. Strewn upon the bed were all of her volunteer projects, tasks she kept up with until virtually her last breath. She wanted to share some of the wisdom and methods she’d gathered in her years as a social worker. What a profound honor; her ideas were very deep, and I use her methods to this day. Then came the “favor.”