About the Annual Kavod v’Nichum North American
Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference
The Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference started as an annual event in 2003, and was for many years two-and-a-half days of intense in-person learning focused on the end-of life continuum. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the conference has been an online-only event, usually four days of workshops and plenary sessions. Topics range from visiting the sick (bikkur cholim), to ritual preparation of the dead for burial (taharah) and comforting the soul between death and burial (shmirah), through funeral and burial to all aspects of grief and mourning, this conference is intended to allow every participant to immerse in the knowledge, resources, texts, and discussions vital to working in their own community.
Historically, this was an in-person event taking place in a different community every year, all over North America. Venues included hotels, JCCs, synagogues, and college campuses. However, times have changed! Starting in 2020, conferences have been held entirely online. Future conferences might be some sort of hybrid between in-person and online format.
The presentations respectfully embrace and include every approach to Jewish living, and every kind of Jewish community. Some sessions are oriented toward mainstream practices while others are introducing new approaches and rituals. To get an idea of the breadth and depth of our conference session topics and world-class instructors, please visit the Previous Conferences Page where you can review previous conference programs.
If you need emotional re-charging, get your batteries ready because you will be re-inspired, re-enthused, and re-energized by the amazing teachers and folks who attend this conference.
Don’t miss the “live” taharah demo as well as discussions of intermarried burials, active listening, marketing traditional funerals and burials, infection control, history of the Chevrah Kadisha, autopsy and medical examiners, non-profit funeral homes, transgender issues, cemetery consecration, Maavor Yabbok text study, healing, cemetery finances, bereavement photography, genealogy, cemetery regulators, and much more. Plus lots of networking, discussing, strategizing, sharing, and supporting. Each year we work hard to include the most important topics, people, and issues appropriate for the world in which we live.
Who Should Attend
We encourage every synagogue, Jewish cemetery, and Chevrah Kadisha, as well as related institutions such as a hospice or hospital, to send a team to the conference. There’s a lot to learn, to share, and to bring home.
If you are new to end-of-life work, this gathering will provide you education and inspiration, concrete resources with a network of experts. And did we mention networking?
If you are experienced, the conference gives you a wealth of options to learn in-depth, or branch out to new areas.
Those who are members of an existing chevrah, along with those who are considering creating a new Chevrah Kadisha, are encouraged to come to deepen their knowledge, find colleagues who are in similar situations in other communities, learn what to do next, and find a wealth of resources. These conferences have helped many to establish new rituals and deepen existing practices. It’s amazing what you can take home when you learn with others from all over North America.
Consider attending the conference if you:
- are interested in the fields of community organizing, consumer advocacy, bikkur cholim, chaplaincy, rabbinic texts, thanatology, hospice care, grief therapy, funeral direction, cemetery management, and legacy planning;
- recognize the importance of liturgy and ritual in ensuring that the spiritual dimension of the end-of-life continuum is appreciated, and that the work of the Chevrah Kadisha is done with full regard for the respect and dignity of all involved;
- want to learn more about the entire end-of-life continuum, including dealing with life-threatening illness, legacy and preparation of ethical wills, preparing for death and at the time of death, care for the body, taharah and shmirah, care for relatives and friends, funeral and burial practices and ritual, mourning, grieving, remembering and providing comfort, always with underlying themes of communal obligation, care for the poor and elderly, consumer protection, and Jewish continuity;
- believe it is essential to move the culture surrounding continuum-of-life issues in the Jewish community from the all-too-common attitude of denial and neglect around death, to a more open attitude towards death that includes increasing awareness, acceptance, and healthy integration into family and community life;
- want to participate in the development of a strong Jewish corps of volunteer and professional communal leaders, who work to inspire, support, organize, teach, and advocate for the full range of Chevrah Kadisha work in synagogues and communities.
Want to Teach at a Conference?
Our conference sessions, plenaries, and evening programs are led by a mix of experienced experts, lay and clergy, artists, musicians, and every-day people. All of these teachers are inspired and passionate about their topics. Do you have a specialty or a new idea you want to share? Contact us and let’s talk about it! We are always open to new approaches, novel ideas, and collaborative efforts that help promote tikkun olam, healing the world. Please send us your ideas for a session using this form, or contact us directly to discuss your ideas. The conference contact is listed at the bottom of this page.
Want to Sell Something at a Conference?
Each conference has a small shuk/bookstore in which we sell various books, artwork, and sometimes other things related to Jewish end of life. If you have something you want to sell or distribute at the conference, please be in touch. We would love to chat with you. The conference bookstore is open only during the conference, but some books and materials are available online year-round. Please contact us to find out the details! The conference contact is listed at the bottom of this page.
Want to Help with These Conferences?
If you are passionate about the holy work of Jewish death practices, and if you have skills to share to help us make the next conference even more amazing, please contact us. We would love to see how your skills can best help. The conference contact is listed at the bottom of this page. To see our planning for upcoming conferences, please visit Planning the Next Conference.
North American Chevrah Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference
Sarit Wishnevski, Executive Director
P.O. Box 1206
Maplewood, NJ 07040