Becoming Jewish

laura-rosenthalLaura Rosenthal is currently a student at Colby College, studying English. Laura and her family have been active in our Temple Shalom family for many years. She was a leader in SHAFTY, our youth group, and served on the NFTY-NE regional board.

She is an excellent writer, and recently posted an amazing reflection on her process in becoming Jewish for the Mayyim Hayyim Blog. You can read it here: http://mayyimhayyimblog.com/2014/08/20/becoming-jewish/

Mazel Tov to the Epstein Family!

We share in joy as we welcome Simon Epstein Gaeta to the world. We welcome him into the Temple Shalom family. Mother, Father, and baby are all doing well.

The stats: 6 pounds, 12 oz. 20 inches tall.

Simon is the son of Rebecca & Joe Gaeta and the grandson of Susan & Michael Epstein. He is named in part for his maternal great-grandmother, Sonia Dunn Gilbert.photo 1 photo 3 photo 2

Mazel Tov to Kari & Christopher!

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We share in joy as we welcome Maren into the Covenant of Israel! This past weekend, we bestowed upon her the Hebrew name Meroma bat Kari v’Christopher. May her name be deserving of honor, and the actions she takes in life be direted by chenchesed, and rachamim.

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Mazel Tov to Leah Sawyer!

Leah Sawyer, Wet Hair Moment

We share in joy with Leah Sawyer as we welcome her officially to the Jewish community! Today, Leah met with a beit din and immersed in the mikveh to complete her conversion process.

At services this evening, Leah will stand before our community as she recites Sh’ma holding onto our sacred Torah for the first time. We will also bestow upon her a Hebrew name.

What a milestone! In preparation for this day, Leah prepared a reflection on her Jewish journey:

Today I am choosing to become Jewish.  This is an important step for me – seven steps, actually, into the mikveh waters as a Gentile and seven steps back out as a new Jew – and a decision I do not take lightly.  After nearly two decades of thinking about the idea, and after 15 months of serious study and reflection, I am ready to become officially what I have come to feel inside, and to what I have been drawn for most of my life.

The question of “why Judaism?” is a hard one to answer – not because of a lack of compelling reasons, but because much of my motivation comes from somewhere deeper than logic.  Judaism just feels like the right fit for me, in an elemental way that defies description.

Growing up in a loving Irish Catholic family, my parents instilled strong values that included doing the right thing even at personal cost, prioritizing family and community, and the importance of kindness and generosity.  As I have grown in my life’s path, many of the specific tenets I believe in have changed, but those core values continue to guide me.  In Judaism, I find deep resonance with those values, and with new ones I have come to hold dear – inclusiveness, healing the world, feminism, and lifelong learning.  I still have many questions and expect I always will — in Judaism, I have found a structure in which I can wrestle with thorny topics and learn from others who are doing the same.  Most importantly, I have found an oasis of peace and calm in my life, a space of time in which I can recharge, and at the same time be challenged to be better and kinder.

My Jewish journey started in middle school, when I first read Chaim Potok’s The Chosen (and in short order, all of Potok’s other books) that gave me a window into a new world, and when our Christian Bible teacher Dr. D taught us ancient Israelite history and a smattering of basic Hebrew.  In college, as my once-ardent Catholic faith faltered, Dr. D’s statement that “next to Mandarin, Hebrew is the hardest language” was a spur to find a Hebrew tutor (difficult in deep rural Virginia) who introduced the aleph-bet, and to find a scholarship to study in Israel.

My six months in Israel taught me many things – that there are many kinds of hummus and they’re all delicious, Hebrew really IS incredibly difficult to learn, never to trust that an Israeli-organized “short easy” hike will be either short or easy, and that Israel is a deeply difficult and deeply beguiling country – but not so much about the actual religion of Judaism.  I learned that (at that time) most Israelis were culturally but not spiritually Jewish.

It was not until 2013, after a difficult period caused me to reexamine my life in many ways, that I began to think about Judaism more seriously.  At the time I was living with a roommate who had converted to Catholicism and taught high school theology.  Theological conversations with Andrea over red wine and pad Thai started me thinking again, after a long time of being closed spiritually.  I knew I couldn’t convert to Judaism, even with its lifelong pull, for a number of reasons… though in the end, none of those reasons stood up to debate or research.  I read Anita Diamante’s book Choosing A Jewish Life, my heart racing with excitement, and decided that this sounded right for me – I needed to know more.

After I contacted the Union of Reform Judaism and signed up for an intro to Judaism course, I started attending the local synagogue, Beth El Hebrew in Alexandria Virginia.  People were welcoming, but I struggled with feeling out-of-place, not knowing the melodies, and barely being able to sound out the Hebrew in the prayer book.  I kept coming every week and found a Hebrew tutor, and over several months I learned the melodies and came to feel less out-of-place, although I was still one of the youngest adults in the synagogue by several decades.

Following a sudden move to Boston for a new job, I was referred to Rabbi Neil Hirsch at Temple Shalom of Newton, who enthusiastically volunteered to shepherd me through the conversion process.  My first experience of Temple Shalom was Yom Kippur, which turned out to be hauntingly beautiful and meaningful in a way I hadn’t expected, as I reflected on the ways I wanted to change my life and myself in the coming year.  The evening Yom Kippur service was followed by a 20s and 30s break fast feast, where I met people my age, many of whom I have come to know well in the interim.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind year of growth and learning — I’ve lit Shabbat candles in my home, attended services at Temple Shalom and Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley, studied Torah on Shabbat mornings (especially savoring the footnotes in the women’s commentary Torah), studied Hebrew prayers (thanks to Liz Piper-Goldberg), burned “Thanksgivvukah” mashed potato latkes, taken the introduction to Judaism course in Wayland (thanks to Rabbis Neal Gold, Jen Gubitz, and Alana Alpert, among others), learned about the conversion process at Mayyim Hayyim (thanks to Rabbi Julie Zupan), and participated in the 10-week young adult Eser study class.  Most importantly, I have met regularly with Rabbi Hirsch, whose calm kindness and insightful analysis of complex issues I came to value, as we discussed my evolving thoughts and questions about Judaism, until I felt that I was ready to be adopted into Judaism.

The Mishkan T’filah prayerbook has many beautiful passages for reflection, including one that brings tears to my eyes every time we read or sing it:

Standing on the parted shore of history

We still believe what we were taught

Before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot;

That wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt

That there is a better place, a promised land;

That the winding way to that promise

Passes through the wilderness.

That there is no way to get from here to there

Except by joining hands, marching together.

Today I join a beautiful 4,000 year old tradition, one with built-in growth and deep complexity.  It’s where I belong, and I am honored to join hands and march together into a new future.

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Music Is All Around

By Joanna Grill
Joanna is an active participant in our High School Youth programs, MA’ARIV, SHAFTY and NFTY-NE. This summer, Joanna was a participant in the URJ’s Urban Mitzvah Corps New Jersey. This post originally appeared on the UMC Blog.

On the Urban Mitzvah Corps (UMC) packing list, I was ecstatic when I saw that “musical instruments” was listed. When I play my guitar here at the Phi Sigma Sigma house, people will walk downstairs and gravitate towards the music in the living room, whether it is a pop song or a Jewish song. I find that the best feeling is to start playing guitar for a group of people, and to end the song with everyone singing along and smiling with me. I led sing-alongs with a large group downstairs, with just girls in the Girls’ Lounge on the third floor, with my three roommates, and with just the music master himself –our own Shawn Fogel. I stepped out of my comfort zone last week and tried song leading for the first Friday night Shabbat service of the session – and I loved it.

Joanna with Kayla, UMC 2014 Student Coordinator, at A Better World Market, one of Elijah’s Promise’s sites.
Joanna (right) at A Better World Market, one of Elijah’s Promise’s sites.
Music is all around. We sang along on the van ride to my job site and took turns “DJ-ing”. My job site, Elijah’s Promise, is a soup kitchen on the other side of New Brunswick. We work 3 days a week at Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen, one day at its pay-as-you-can-café, and one day at its market. We arrive at 10am and prepare food and clean the kitchen until 11am. Then, we serve lunch. As volunteers, we have the opportunity to look a person in the eye and directly hand them a meal that is potentially their only meal of the day. I used to avoid eye contact and judge homeless people on the street. Now, when I’m walking around New Brunswick, I see many of the people I have served. When I look into a client’s eyes and talk to them, I get a glimpse of his or her life. Often they tell jokes or make me laugh while I’m handing them food. Other times, they tell me how their days are going and ask me about myself. People often ask for more servings than what is allowed, and it’s a challenge to say no, once you begin to sympathize and hear their stories. The experience at Elijah’s is both eye-opening and humbling; I never used to think twice about where my next meal was coming from.

Today, all four volunteers from UMC got to serve in front. We met some hilarious clients and had a blast. Out of all the days I have spent here in New Brunswick, today was by far the best. After our lunch break, we made pickles and chopped up several different kinds of vegetables for a huge soup. Hey, remember when I said I loved music? It was a bit quiet today chopping, so I asked Chef Pam if we could bring in our speakers and plug my phone in. All of us from Mitzvah Corps had an incredibly fun sing along while making a tremendous amount of food. I spilled pickle juice down my shirt, but I was having too much fun at the soup kitchen to care. Chef Pam, who is filled with unbelievable spirit and energy, walked in and out of the room as we were chopping. Pam smiled and sang along with us. During one song, Pam jumped in the room, pulled me away from my cutting board and had me teach her the dance to the Cupid Shuffle. Meanwhile, we were chopping onions and were all in tears and having the time of our lives singing with each other. Chef Pam, a complete stranger to us at the beginning of the day, was brought closer to us through serving clients, preparing food, and especially through dancing to music.

Music has been my connection to all of the communities I have interacted with here at UMC, from the house, to my job site. Tonight, UMC participants are leading a service at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, a temple in New Brunswick. I will be standing with my guitar along with all my friends in front of the congregants, all complete strangers. But by the end of the night, I know that the beautiful songs that we will share will bring us together as a community.

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Holding Two Realities in Our Hearts

Editor’s Note: Divrei Shalom is the place for Temple Shalom community members to share their perspectives and ideas. We invite all community members to write for us.

By Mary Jane Suzman

I am deeply troubled by the tenor of the CJP call to attend the rally for Israel, and even more by the letter from Barry Shrage linked to it. They emphasize only the suffering of Israel – our wounded soldiers, our widows and orphans, our traumatized children. This suffering is real, but it is not the only suffering: there is a humanitarian disaster of immense proportions amongst the Palestinians of Gaza. As a Jew and a human being, I do not believe that support for Israel requires blindness to the suffering of the Palestinians. Such blindness is in fact destructive of the long-term welfare of Israel and the long-term prospects for peace.

In a particularly misleading statement, Shrage quotes Jonathan Sacks in stating that “Israel has had to endure an ‘assault of a kind no country in the world has had to face: worse than the Blitz in World War II. At the height of the Blitz, on average 100 missiles were launched against Britain every day. On average during the present conflict Hamas has been firing 130 missiles a day against Israel’.”

A little research reveals that during the Blitz in 1940-41, German bombing killed more than 40,000 people and damaged or destroyed over 1 million buildings. Later, in 1944, the V1 and V2 missile attacks began. A total of about 10,000 missiles were fired into Britain, killing a further 9,000 people. In comparison, the Hamas missiles fired on Israel have killed 3. What Sacks and Shrage also failed to note in making their comparison is that each German missile contained a hundred times more explosives than an average Hamas missile.

We have powerful visions in our Jewish texts that can provide better guidance: all people are made in the image of God; all people share in the divine breath that was blown into Adam at creation; love the stranger as thyself; love peace and pursue peace.  There are also lessons on how to handle the deeply held conflicting truths of different people – we are instructed to make ourselves a “heart of many rooms,” and house them there together.

We need to hold these texts close, even in a time of crisis and conflict – perhaps especially in times of crisis and conflict. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the 1,800 Palestinians who have died were each and every one made in the image of God. We need to break down the simplistic duality of Us against Them, Good against Evil, Victim and Aggressor, and allow questions: have Israel and we American Jews done everything possible over the years to pursue peace? Have we treated the Palestinians with the dignity and equality due them as human beings? Are we partially responsible for the current hatred and divisiveness? Are we partially responsible for the escalation that led to the current war?

In response to the CJP’s “urgent call to stand up for Israel” I would ask: Can we not hold two realities in our hearts at once? Our love and support for our people and the state of Israel, but also the suffering and cries of the Palestinians in Gaza? Our narrative of deep connection to the land, but also theirs? Trying to do this leads to a very pained and crying heart. But perhaps it is that pain that can energize us to radically intensify our efforts to lay the foundations that can eventually lead to the end of conflict. Perhaps that pain can help us turn the creative energy, skills, passion and love that originally built the state of Israel toward the determined, multi-faceted, deep pursuit of peace. That is the endeavor I could whole-heartedly support.

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A New Experience

By Jacob Gurvis

This piece originally appeared on the Urban Mitzvah Corp blog on July 30, 2014. Jacob is a leader in SHAFTY, our youth group, and staffs MINCHA, our 7th & 8th grade program.

When I was signing up for Urban Mitzvah Corps New Jersey (UMC), it was just assumed that I would go for the full six weeks. Four weeks wasn’t really logistically possible, with my father being in Israel and my mother at URJ Eisner Camp all summer. So I signed up for all six, not really knowing what it would be like, or what would happen if I didn’t like the first session.

jg2Fortunately, none of those worries proved true. Even after fourteen summers at Eisner, the first session of UMC was one of (if not the) best months of my life. The friendships I made were incredibly special. I loved my job site, Play S.A.F.E., but it was the fun we had in the house and on our trips that made the session truly magical. Whether it was playing poker at night with all the boys, or just sitting and jamming out on guitar, we all had an amazing time together. We were just 32 teens from all over the country, with different backgrounds, customs, and likes, all bonding every second of the day. I never could have imagined that one group of people could become so close so quickly. And I couldn’t be happier that it turned out the way it did.

Needless to say, after such a life-changing and incredible month, saying goodbye was not going to be easy. In fact, that Tuesday morning, watching as 22 of my new best friends left, was one of the hardest days of my life. The day was full of crying and hugs, and saying goodbye was, to put it simply, heartbreaking.

After the tears and goodbyes, for the ten of us full-summer kids, the thought of starting over with new kids did not seem appealing. We were sad, and frankly did not want to meet new people after such a transformative month. It was tough for us to stay positive and excited, but we pulled through, and welcomed the new participants with smiles and open arms. By the first night, I could tell that we’d all be okay.

Now almost a week into second session, I’m so grateful that I was able to stay for both sessions. Sure it was hard saying goodbye, but the new friendships I’ve already made have made it all worth it. It was definitely weird starting over and having a completely new group come in after the month I had, but it has already been so great, that I wouldn’t give this up for anything.

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Mazel Tov to Gabe & Rachel Tash!

We share in joy as we welcome Charlie Wesley Tash to the world. We welcome him into the Covenant of Israel, and into the Temple Shalom family. Mother, Father, and baby are all doing well. 

Rachel shares here about Charlie’s name: 
Charlie is named after Gabe’s great uncle, Charles Schiff, who was a loving presence throughout Gabe’s childhood. He was a successful business owner in New York City and loved trains and dogs, just like my husband, Gabe.
 
Charlie Wesley TashCharlie’s middle name, Wesley, was my maternal grandfather’s name. Wesley Leonard was a family physician in Rockville Center, New York and lived in Concord, NH with me for the last few years of his life. He was a hard working community doctor and was incredibly devoted to his grandchildren.
 
Charlie’s Hebrew name is in honor of my paternal grandmother’s long time partner, Sidney Horblitt. Sid was around for most of my childhood and he was like a grandfather to me and my sisters. Sid always referred to my mother (Carol Sobelson, hebrew name Shira) as Shira Katanah (little Shira) and in response we all called him, Shalom Gadol (big Shalom). Although Sid’s true given hebrew name was Shalom, in my mind he never went by this single word so naming Charlie after his full nickname seemed more appropriate. Cantor Halpern has helped us to translate this into English as “Great Peace,” which we also think is a wonderful reflection of Sid’s character and the kind of person we hope Charlie will become, too. 
 
We look forward to many happy occasions with the Tash family, as we watch the family grow. May they aways continue from strength to strength. Mazel Tov! 
 
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“You and I Will Change the World” – But When???

Earlier today I sat over coffee with my friends Tsvika and Nadine Mizrachi. Tsvika was the moreh derekh – the guide for our earliest Temple Shalom Israel trips, beginning in 2004. Though it has been a few years since we last worked together with a group, we remain in touch. Often we run into each other somewhere on the streets while Tsvika is guiding. This time Tsvika called me within days of my arrival. “How did you know I was here?” I exclaimed. “A little birdy told me. Eric, it’s July. I know you’re here!” he replied.

Today’s conversation, in a cafe in Jerusalem’s German Colony, was a chance to catch up on one another’s family’s and lives. But of course, much of the conversation was about the matzav –“the situation” as Israelis often refer to whatever major challenge is being faced by Israel. Nadine and I engaged in quite a bit of discourse about how we Americans misread events like those taking place in this challenging time. She explained, “I always start my guiding by welcoming people home. They are often surprised as I explain that they have two homes.” (From experience I can assure you that Tsvika begins the same way.)

After a month in Israel (a bit longer than planned owing to the matzav, I am preparing to head home from my home in Israel. I always leave with a complicated cocktail of emotions. After a month away from my family (except for Aaron, who is also here in Israel), I am eager to see them. I’ve long said that “it’s easier for me to leave Israel when I already know when I will return.” And I expect to return in December with a group from our Temple Shalom family, who I hope will also find that this is their second home.

Needless to say, the emotions this time are complicated by the matzav. Even as I am eager to see my family and friends it’s hard not to feel like I am abandoning family and friends. I cannot tell you how many times Israelis have thanked me for being here over these past weeks. This has been even more true since the ground operation began a week ago. Over the past week I have been traveling with my dear friend and colleague, Rabbi Howard Jaffe from Lexington, MA. Back in late May he floated the idea of me extending my stay so we could travel for a bit as we are both enjoying a bit of sabbatical time. So, I changed my ticket, and we made plans to visit friends in Haifa and explore places that we both wanted to see in Israel’s Upper Galilee. “We can have an adventure just like old times,” Howie told me. Why not, I thought? Trust me, neither of us expected the adventure of this summer. In truth, few saw it coming.

Where we went; what we saw; and most importantly what we learned — that’s for another time, save for one small piece. At lot of what we did was spur of the moment as we uncovered unexpected treasures along our way. We saw many new sites — we also saw empty streets, empty shops, empty restaurants, and empty hotels. During our time in Tel Aviv (on what was supposed to have been my last day here) we wandered the largely empty streets of downtown Tel Aviv. “The City That Never Sleeps” (as Tel Aviv is often called) was very sleepy, very quiet this week. When we visited nearby Jaffa, we may have seen 5 or 6 other visitors. It was hard to miss the emptiness.

At one point yesterday, we came across Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Cemetery, which neither of us had ever seen. It is the final resting place of legendary Zionist thinkers like Ahad Ha-Am and Max Nordau. It is the resting place of important political figures including Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv’s first Grave of Arik EinsteinMayor. Looking online, Howard noted that it more recently became the final resting place of Arik Einstein (pronounced einshtein), who died late last Fall. As an avid fan of Israeli music, I have long loved Arik Einstein’s music. His death was sudden – at least for most of the public. His imprint upon Israeli culture and music is indelible. With no one to guide us, we were determined to find his grave and pay our respects. After what seemed like a very long time, under a very brutal sun and in wicked humidity, Howard found the grave. Barely seven months have gone by sincere Einstein’s death. It is clearly the most visited grave in Trumpeldor Cemetery. We stood silently by his grave, as did a few others – all Israelis. There were pictures, flowers, handwritten notes, and of course, many stones. In my head I could hear one of Arik Einstein’s most well-known compositions, Ani V’atah, which for years was a standard in NFTY and at our URJ Camps. I am almost tempted to say that it was virtually an “anthem” given its meaning. The words translate like this:

Me and you, we’ll change the world.
Me and you, then all the others will come.
It been said before,that doesn’t matter.
Me and you, we’ll change the world.

Me and you, we’ll try from the beginning.
We’ll suffer (it will be bad), never mind, it’s not terrible.
It been said before,that doesn’t matter.
Me and you, we’ll change the world.

You can catch Arik Einstein singing it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETqJxlBrQbc

Arik Einstein penned the perfect tikkun olam ballad back in 1971. It was a strong part of the American Jewish repertoire. We sang it for years.

As Howard and I turned to leave the grave and the cemetery, I noticed one picture in particular. It was an old picture, but I was reasonably certain that standing with Arik was Shalom Hanoch, with whom he recorded a number of albums early in his career. I asked one of the Israelis standing nearby if that was correct. She affirmed it, and I felt a shiver go down my spine. It was Arik Einstein who’d introduced me (so to speak) to Hanoch over four decades ago. Howard and I were to see Shalom Hanoch in concert later last night. It was a bit spooky.

I still get chills when I hear the opening chords of Ani V’atah, as it’s still a personal favorite. As I pack my bags hoping that tomorrow, my flight will actually leave Ben Gurion airport, I cannot help but think back over this past month. This has been a tough time. One needs only to read the various websites within the Jewish world (let alone the world around us) to see the wildly divergent reactions to the events of these past weeks, starting with the discovery of the lifeless bodies of the three Yeshiva boys who’d been abducted several weeks earlier (their bodies found just three days after I arrived in Israel); the brutal and horrific abduction and murder of a Palestinian teen by a group of Jewish youth who set him aflame while he was alive; the tension that quickly took hold as everyone wondered whether we were witnessing the beginning of a third Intifada; the uptick of missiles flying from Gaza across the border into Israel, and daily warning from Israel calling for stopping the missiles; Israel’s mustering of its forces at the edge of Gaza; and now 17 days of “Operation Protective Edge,” including these last seven days since the IDF’s entrance into Gaza. Thinking back over these weeks, I realize that I have never been in Israel during such a protracted period of conflict and warfare.

I could wax political and analyze these events in those terms. But that is not my mood at this moment as I prepare to leave. As I have since this began 17 days ago, I will soon head to bed with a prayer that the days ahead of us will see sheket v’shalva – quiet and calm, restored to this tense tinderbox I have inhabited for the past month. Assuming I leave tomorrow, there will presumably be no sirens or racing for shelter for me in the days and weeks to come. But I fear it will continue for Israelis and Palestinians for far too many days to come. As Nadine Mizrachi shared over coffee this

Sign that is now found  everywhere in windows and on banners throughout Israel in solidarity with the IDF

Sign that is now found everywhere in windows and on banners throughout Israel in solidarity with the IDF

afternoon, “Each one of those boys fighting in Gaza is like my own.” It’s a sentiment I have heard again and again as I have traveled around this tiny country. Certainly it is hard to imagine that there are not Palestinian mothers and fathers who say the same as their community counts its losses. I will not equate the two sides in this conflict, but at the end of the day each child is a child, and each death the end of a life.

Earlier today, Reuven Rivlin was sworn in as Israel’s President. At the understated ceremony (in light of the conflict raging in and around Gaza) he stated, “We are gathered here today with a very clear message to our enemies: You have not overcome us and you will not do so . . While we use rockets to protect civilians, they use civilians to protect rockets . . . We are not fighting against the Palestinian people, and we are not at war with Islam; we are fighting against terrorism . . . The day will come when the dark terrorism is eradicated from our land,” he predicted. “The day will come when we will dwell here in peace and harmony with each other; the day will come when there will be peace between Israel and all its neighbors . . .”

I say, keyn y’hee ratzon – May it be so!

How do we arrive at that day? Ani v’atah – it takes you and I; each of us — with the other, with family, friends, neighbors, and yes, even with foes to take that first step. Yes, Arik Einstein — “it will be hard.” But when will we find the courage to take the difficult steps, on all sides of this bitter conflict, so that we can change the world?

The mood here in Israel is grim. It is harder with each passing to maintain hope that those steps can be found. But I continue to pray that we will one day find them – so that we can change this world.

A Legacy for Your Family

By Loretta Zack 

The best gift you can ever give your family is to arrange your own funeral. …Did I hear a sharp intake of breath?

There are certain things that one should do in life, but somehow funeral planning does not always happen. When you are young, you have no concept of the future and as you get older, it becomes taboo. But when it happens and you have not made plans, it is a nightmare.

In my own life, I have been through many varying stages with family and friends where no planning was done and families tended to argue. In some cases, it caused everyone to totally fall out with one another. This is such an emotional time for everyone concerned and that is why planning ahead is the most sensible answer, however gruesome.  

Truthfully, when I say gruesome, it actually can be very satisfying to know that because of your actions, your children and family will not have too much to worry about, as long as you have everything in writing.  

The actual funeral arrangements can be so simple as long as you know what to do. Working at Temple Shalom for over nine years now, I have learned so much, and feel that with this knowledge, I have been able to guide and help people where they are just not sure what to do. And let’s face it, heartbreak, sadness, emotions, you just cannot think straight. For this reason, it is so important to shop for a funeral home and speak with our clergy. These are the people trained to help you during such a tough time. Since, in the Jewish tradition, burial takes place quickly, even if death was expected, the grief that comes with the loss is so overwhelming that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Over the years, members of our community have asked many questions to help them plan. For example:

  • What do I do, I have never done this before?
  • My children do not want to observe shiva. What do I do?
  • How many days do I have to sit shiva?
  • Who will be there to help me?
  • Where do I get the black ribbon and the large yahrzeit candle?
  • How am I going to cope?
  • My brother will not come to my house to sit shiva, what can we do?
  • What is Sheloshim?
  • None of my family are Jewish, and they will not know what to do? How do I handle that?
  • What is the difference between a burial service and a memorial service?

It is important to know that we at Temple Shalom will always be available to help with any questions you have. Never be afraid to ask. That is why the Temple Shalom family is so important—we are here to support and assist you.

I strongly urge you to take that giant step and make arrangements now. Leave your family the best gift, ever!

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