Kavod v'Nichum and Gamliel Institute provide resources, education, and training along the Jewish end-of-life continuum: from visiting the sick and pre-planning, to care for the body after death, to providing comfort to the mourners.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Jewish Death Practices

This page provides a central forum for resources and news in relation to Jewish death-related practices and the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 virus.  If you have new information or resources that you feel would be helpful to others, please share with us so we can help others (info@Jewish-Funerals.org).

Here’s a lovely poem about pandemics to help you keep perspective.

Recommendations for Taharah Room Safety  –   Important Updates!

  1. Kavod v’Nichum recommendations  (updated March 24th)  
  2. The National Association of Chevros Kadisha recommendations  (updated March 25th)
  3. Recommended book:  Health and Safety Precautions for Taharah – A Guide to Understanding Potential Risk and Injuries While Performing the Holy Work of the Chevrah Kadisha

 

Spiritual and Emotional Strength

Discussion begins Monday April 6th

Dear Chevrah,
Like all of us, I too am saddened that we will not be able to perform the holy work of the CK doing our taharas during this pandemic. I am inspired to hear the creative thinking that we are presenting so that we can still honor the met in new and creative ways.

Yet there is an aspect of this new normal that we have not been addressing. Along with our physical safety needs of having social distancing, food in the house, transferring our work to be at home and online, etc, there are the emotional and spiritual aspects of this pandemic that are hardly being addressed.

If the predictions pan out, we will not hit the peak of this illness for several weeks or months from now. At some point, there is the probability of great suffering coming to all of our communities—suffering frankly that could be unfathomable with multiple deaths in each synagogue. Today i heard on the news that the government is hoping for 250,000 deaths as good news. Likely it will be well over a million people or more people dying across the country. This is sobering and cause for alarm for all the very poignant needs these families will be longing for. Therefore, it would be prudent to have us prepare to be a source of strength in the coming months so others can lean on our leadership at this badly needed time. As members of the Chevrah Kadisha we are leaders in the field of death and dying. And it seems clear that the time is coming for us to not only focus our work on performing sacred acts for the met but also on sacred acts of caring for our grieving communities.

Here is a link to an article about this issue and on Monday, April 6th, I will be talking more about how we each can be present for this coming challenge. (See “ongoing Monday evening discussion and question/answer sessions” in the next section below.)

Sending blessings to all for health and safety,
Nicky Silver

 

Questions and Answers Regarding Chevrah Kadisha Work and this Virus

    • Kavod v’Nichum facilitated an online Webinar on March 8th, 2020, with a panel of experts in infection control and taharah.  Many questions were answered during this Webinar, as well as many additional items discussed. Click here to register to view the recording of this important Webinar. Upon registration you will be given the link to the video. It’s free. Download the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied the Webinar, here. See the list of recommendations from this panel below.
    • Kavod v’Nichum is facilitating ongoing Monday evening discussion and question/answer sessions online using Zoom.  These evening meetings are at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm East. Everyone is welcome, there is no charge. Please register to attend the Monday night sessions here to get the Zoom meeting link. These sessions are set to run from March 16th through April 27th. Those who are registered will be sent not only the meeting link but also links to recordings of past Monday sessions.

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Articles on Infection Control in the Taharah Room

Click here to see over 20 articles spanning some 30+ years detailing the thinking about infection control and taharah practices.

 

Chevrah Kadisha Policies and Articles that Deal with Pandemic Response

We are collecting local policy ideas and practices that have been put in place to deal with our changing and challenging times. The list below might be of assistance to those attempting to establish new policies in this regard.  If you have a policy in place, please share it (info@Jewish-Funerals.org).

 

Alternative Taharah Ritual Ideas – Keeping teams safe while still honoring the dead

  • When no taharah can be performed, this new ritual created by Rabbi Lynn Greenhough, provides “completion” by offering a taharah-like ritual at the grave site, perhaps long after burial, when it is safe for teams to gather. She suggests that chevrot could perhaps perform this ritual between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You have permission to download this to use in your community.
  • The Chevra Kavod haMet of Portland, OR, has modified their existing taharah manual to create a new ritual called Tahara l’Nefesh, allowing taharah to be performed without the presence of the decedent’s body. See the men’s manual here, the women’s version here. You have permission to download these to use them for holy work in your community.

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General Articles of Jewish Interest

 

Scientific Articles and Research Related the Coronavirus

Relevant articles and papers from the scientific community:

 

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