People say to me, “I don’t understand how you do your job,” or, “What’s it like to be surrounded by death all the time? Isn’t it depressing?”
It’s not depressing, but it can be sad. Those of us behind the scenes, the Shomrim who sit vigil with our loved ones, the members of the Chevrah Kadisha who reverently wash, purify and dress our loved ones..we feel the sadness.
On Rosh Hashana, or cleaning my house for Pesach, or lighting the Chanukah candles with my family, I remember the women I have cared for. My heart feels the heaviness of families facing their first Yom tov (holiday) without their mother, Baba, bubbe, auntie, sister.
When I light my Shabbat candles, my thoughts always include an acknowledgment of women no longer “benching licht“, their physical light in this realm literally extinguished. I like to believe that their “soul lights” continue to illuminate and guide their families … not far away … just beyond the veil of our understanding.
Rena Boroditsky is the Executive Director of the Chesed Shel Emes, the non-profit Jewish funeral chapel and Chevrah Kadisha in Winnipeg, Canada. For fifteen years, she has been a student and teacher of end-of-life Jewish rituals. Rena has been recognized in her community for her service. Rena has led sessions at Kavod v’Nichum conferences and at Limmud events in the US & Canada. She launched Death Café Winnipeg. She has served in past and presently as a board member of Kavod v’Nichum. She has been a lecturer and student in the Gamliel Institute. She is engaged in developing additional courses for advanced Gamliel Institute students. Rena is a member of the first graduating class of the Gamliel Institute, having completed the required studies and projects, and she participated in the inaugural Israel Study Mission, the heart of the sixth course in the Gamliel Institute curriculum, International Perspectives