Rosh Chodesh Women’s Group
Sunday, March 18th, 7:00 p.m.
When a Jew dies, a burial group known as the chevrah kadisha (holy society) prepares the body for interment. Our tradition views the men and women who are members of a chevrah kadisha to be praiseworthy especially since so many are reluctant to participate in this mitzvah. A member of San Diego’s chevrah kadisha, Doris Jaffe, will join us to offer insight and answer your questions. Doris said the following about her commitment to being part of this group:
Serving on the Chevra Kadisha is a big important mitzvah. It is the only favor you can do for someone and never be repaid. Members of the Chevra Kadisha do it out of love for another human being. We gain a new respect for life.
A Note from Doris:
I grew up with a healthy respect for cemeteries. My maternal grandpa used to take us to visit the graves of my grandma, great-grandparents, and other relatives in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. My sister and I made friends with deceased children who had photos on their graves. We put stones on the graves of everyone we knew. Elderly men hung around the entrance to the cemeteries hoping visitors would hire them to recite the El Moley Rachamim prayer. My grandpa said it was a mitzvah to give tzedaka to these men who were trying to supplement their income in a dignified manner.
We didn’t attend family funerals when we were youngsters. The first funeral I attended was for my husband’s 19 year old sister. She died in a car crash twelve days before our wedding. The rabbis told us we don’t postpone or cancel a wedding even when a death occurs in the immediate family because a wedding is a religious ceremony. We changed the location and limited the guests to only immediate family.
After her funeral the rabbis jointly signed a statement that they would no longer officiate at open casket funerals. We don’t embalm. It is considered disrespectful to the deceased to gawk at them. People should be reciting Psalms.
A few years later when I moved to Dayton, Ohio, my husband’s aunt wanted to teach me how to do taharas (ritual washing/shrouding/casketing) the body. The deceased are treated with the utmost dignity, love, and respect.
Later on in Cleveland a Lubavitch rebbetzin sent me on my first job as a Shomer. I have been doing shmira for 42 years. The shomer stays at the mortuary with the deceased and recites Tehillim (Psalms). More people are available to do taharas than do shmira because of the time involved…usually from time of death until the funeral.
Serving on the Chevra Kadisha is a big important mitzvah. It is the only favor you can do for someone and never be repaid. Members of the Chevra Kadisha do it out of love for another human being. We gain a new respect for life. Many people have the attitude that it is an honor and pleasure to serve on the Chevra Kadisha.
We moved here 38 years ago. My husband and I took over doing shmira when our neighbor moved out of town.
About 27 years ago we did a Jewish Funeral Practices program for the community. Several rabbis spoke. We honored the ladies who used to do taharas; one even sewed shrouds herself. We did a mini fashion show-dressing a doll in shrouds. Our goal was to take away the fear and mystery of death by encouraging people to learn what our Torah teaches.
I’m looking forward to joining you on Sunday, March 18, 2018 so we can learn together and share thoughts.
Let us know you’ll be there
This month we’ll be hosted at the home of Claire Young. Guests are invited to bring a dairy / pareve appetizer, snack, or dessert or domestic wine or other beverages. When you RSVP, we’ll share Claire’s address with you. Email your RSVP or call 619 697-6001.RSVP Here
The first of each Jewish month—the celebration of the new moon, its slender crescent barely visible in the night sky—is a day historically associated with women’s renewal and celebration. In recent decades, Rosh Chodesh has become an occasion for Jewish women to gather for learning, ritual, and spiritual exploration, and to mark life passages.
A Rosh Chodesh group can provide a unique opportunity for women to share experiences. Talking about the joys and challenges of relationships with significant others, family and friends; the need for a spiritual dimension in our day-to-day lives; experiences with death and mourning; our Jewish upbringing, choice to be Jewish or grappling with the questions of those who are experiencing an inter-religious relationship–all are potential themes to explore. Sharing our unique stories allows each of us to broaden our own knowledge while creating a bond between group members.
We hope to have women of all ages. We believe that our diversity will be our greatest strength and allow us to learn and grow from one another. Our Rosh Chodesh group plans to meet monthly, in various homes, and offer women an exclusive and meaningful opportunity.
Whether you’d like to host one month or have a suggestion for a discussion topic just let us know.
Sometimes we’re able to share materials with our guests and readers from past Rosh Chodesh gatherings. The links below will take you to pdf documents that our learning guides have shared. We hope you enjoy.
presented June 2017 by Susan Keller
presented January 2018 by Debbie Mishek