JUNE 10, 11, 12, 2007




Rabbi Benjamin Blech is an internationally recognized educator, religious leader, author and lecturer. He is the author of eleven highly acclaimed books, many of which are used as basic texts in universities round the world. His book, Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed, was chosen by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations as “the single best book on Judaism in our generation”. A recipient of the American Educator of the Year Award, he is a Professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University as well as the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Oceanside congregation. In a national poll, he was recently ranked #16 among the 50 most influential Jews in America.



Is this all there is? What happens when we leave this world? Is there survival after death? What is it like? What does Judaism have to say? How do recent medical breakthroughs add to our understanding of the ultimate mystery of the hereafter? And can we gain even greater wisdom from the teachings of Kabbalah? Rabbi Blech will offer fascinating answers to these and other oft-asked questions about death and dying.



The belief in the Messiah is one of the 13 major Principle of Faith in Judaism. What does it mean for contemporary Jewry? What is the significance of the establishment of the State of Israel in the framework of ultimate redemption? Are we living in an age predicted by the prophets? And are there events of our generation that we can recognize as fulfillment of Biblical prophecies? Discover some amazing truths that will offer a powerful message of hope to our uncertain times.


Rabbi Maurice Lamm: His landmark book, “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning,” was first published 30 years ago. Rabbi Lamm is founder and president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice and a professor at the Yeshiva University’s Rabbinical Seminary. He has come to a new understanding of the mourning process, which he shares in his new book of Jewish wisdom, “Consolation: The Spiritual Journey Beyond Grief” (JPS).

PLENARY:Consolation: The Spiritual Journey Beyond Grief


The culmination of the Taharah – surprisingly - is consolation, Nichum Avelim!

In a weird and wonderful way, we are coming to understand the process of Taharah – which is a paradigmatic Halakhic process - and also a source of unspoken solace to those who grieve. Why this is so, and how it feeds into the process of consolation during shiva, needs to be understood in order to sensitively serve the victim families we wait on.

There is a massorah of regesh, a tradition of feeling, in addition to the massorah of halakha, a tradition of law that we are all familiar with. How do we accomplish that?



Eliezer Segal

Dr. Eliezer Segal: Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Alberta. Eliezer Segal’s primary areas of research include Talmudic literature, Jewish law and homiletics, and comparative Biblical interpretation. His scholarly publications include Case Citation in the Babylonian Talmud (1990) and The Babylonian Esther Midrash: A Critical Commentary (3 vols, 1994) as well as many articles and book chapters. He has contributed to comparative studies on topics as diverse as afterlife beliefs, scriptures and traditions, religious practice, and criminal justice and has a popular site on the Web

WORKSHOP: TEXT: A Sprinkling of Bones -Ossilegium and Ossuaries in the Tractate Semahot (Evel Rabbati).


Join Dr. Segal in a text-based workshop where he will discuss very early customs of Jewish ‘burial’. Dr. Segal is a noted and innovative teacher. Ossuaries have been much in the news over the past several years – but how prevalent was this custom? What precipitated both the custom of burial of bones in ossuaries, and then transition to in-ground burial?


 Melvyn Hartog: Head of Burials at the United Synagogue in London, England. He joined the United Synagogue in January 2001 with overall responsibility for over 70 staff and upkeep of 11 cemeteries. The United Synagogue Burial Society is responsible for all activities surrounding the burial of its members. It organizes, oversees and advises on the various processes that are required by both Jewish and English law. It is also responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of its burial grounds and mortuaries


PLENARY: How different are requirements regarding burial in THE United Kingdom?

Have you ever shipped a met overseas to England? Here is an opportunity to meet with and ask questions of the man who oversees the United Synagogue Burial Society.


WORKSHOP: Health & Safety for Burying for Taharot.

The United Synagogue in England has established regular training regarding health and safety concerns for Chevra Kadisha members. Are you interested in designing a safety programme for your Chevra? Melvyn Hartog will guide us through the rigorous programming that he teaches in England.


Isa Milman: Isa is a poet, an artist and occupational therapist who lives in Victoria, B.C. Born in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany in 1949, she emigrated with her family to Boston in 1950, where she grew up and was educated at Tufts University. Isa Milman is also a visual artist whose paintings and prints are found in private collections in Canada, the United States, Europe and Israel.


WORKSHOP: Prairie Kaddish

This workshop will allow me to share how a visit to the Lipton Hebrew Cemetery in 2003 started my pilgrimage to the cemeteries of the six Jewish farm colonies of Saskatchewan. These visits then led me back to our history in the Pale of Settlement, which in turn cemented my appreciation of my mother’s memory as a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust and created a new life in North America. This journey taught me the central importance of respecting death in Jewish experience, and brought me to understand my place as a Jew in Canada and in the world.  Prairie Kaddish is an illustrated history with poetry.


Rabbi Mel Glazer: Received his Doctor of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. A congregational Rabbi for more than 30 years, Rabbi Glazer is a prominent Grief Recovery Specialist certified by The Grief Recovery Institute. He trained directly under John W. James and Russell Friedman, authors of the definitive work The Grief Recovery Handbook. Rabbi Glazer has counselled, lectured, and conducted workshops in the interfaith community across the U.S. and Canada, and has contributed articles and chapters to theological and general interest publications and books.



Rabbi Glazer has held this workshop at previous conferences and it is always a very moving and spiritual experience for participants. How do we effectively and compassionately decompress after a taharah, particularly after a difficult taharah. How do we support each other, and how do we ask for the support and care we may need.


 Lynn Greenhough: Lynn is a founding member of the Kavod V’Nichum Board that has sponsored the International Chevra Kadisha conferences. She teaches at her synagogue in Victoria, Congregation EmanuEl, (a national historic site, as Canada’s oldest synagogue in continuous use), and also at the University of Victoria.


PLENARY: Goldena Medina to Gold Rush: Jews in Canada

How did the establishment of Jewish cemeteries and Chevra Kadisha societies help to stabilize these fledgling communities? We will see images and stories of Jews established prairie farms, helped in part through the auspices of Baron and Clara de Hirsch; how the Fraser River Gold Rush brought entrepreneurial Jews to British Columbia from the goldfields of California; and we will look at the “uptown” and “downtown” Jewish communities in Montreal. We will also recognize and honour the 100th anniversary, this year, of the Chevra Kadisha in Edmonton.


WORKSHOP: Centuries of Cemetery Design:

Ideas regarding design of cemeteries – what even constitutes correct burial – has changed significantly over the centuries. From ossuaries to brass markers on lawns, Jewish cemeteries have evolved and changed as Jews have adapted to new social, legal and aesthetic mores. This workshop will outline some of those historical patterns, and also invite participants to discuss their own experiences of design changes they may be experiencing in their own communities.


David Zinner: Executive Director of Kavod v'Nichum. David manages the Jewish Funerals Burial and Mourning web site and provides assistance to Chevra Kadisha Groups.



David is a pragmatic visionary and he has been instrumental in keeping both Kavod V’Nichum, the Chevra Kadisha News and the annual conferences afloat. Every year we ask ourselves - where do we go from here – and David always has a challenging perspective for us.


Workshop: Hands on Mapping Workshop:

Bring your laptop and learn how to use Excel to map out your cemetery. Develop a grid system, record monument information and payment history. This is an inexpensive and easy to manage system for those of operating small cemeteries.