by Mary Sue Grossman, Publicity Chair, Beth Israel Synagogue
The Sacred Fellowship. The Holy Society. The Kindness and Truth Society. Performers of Kindness Society. Called a variety of names, the Chevra Kadisha is perhaps the most important group serving Jewish communities around the world. Chevra Kadisha members perform one of the highest levels of mitzvot, the kindness that can never be repaid. The responsibility of the Chevra Kadisha is the sacred task of preparing the body for burial.
The weekend of Jan. 8-10, the role of the Chevra Kadisha will be the focus of Beth Israel Synagogue’s next Scholar-in-Residence, welcoming Rabbi Elchonon Zohn. The theme of the weekend will be Get an Afterlife and is sponsored by Shirley and David Goodman.
Rabbi Zohn is the founder and president of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha and lectures nationally on matters pertaining to the work of the Chevra Kadisha. He is the Director of the Chevra Kadisha of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, NY, and is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Halachic issues pertaining to end-of-life and the work of the Chevra Kadisha. He has traveled around the world speaking about and strengthening the important work of the many regional Chevra Kadisha groups.
The Scholar-in-Residence weekend begins with Shabbat dinner on Friday, Jan. 8 beginning at 6 p.m. Rabbi Zohn will give a presentation, Bridge to Eternity: Get a Life and an Afterlife, following dinner. The dinner will include soup, chicken, vegetables and dessert. Youth programming and babysitting will be available during the presentation. Dinner is $12 for adults, $6 for children four-12 and free for children three and under.
On Saturday morning, Jan. 9 Rabbi Zohn will give the Shabbat sermon. The sermon title will be The Power of Chessed (Kindness): The Greatest Investment. A reception will be held Saturday evening beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a talk by Rabbi Zohn, Not Yet Gone but Already Forgotten.
Completing the weekend, Rabbi Zohn will lead a Tahara Training Seminar on Sunday morning, Jan. 10 beginning at 10 a.m. Tahara is the process of washing the body, a ritual act of purification. Just as a baby is washed and enters the world clean and pure, so do we leave the world cleansed by the religious act of tahara. The seminar is for both current members and anyone interested in joining the Chevra Kadisha. The session, Death in Jewish Life Cycle – Our Laws and Customs through a Tahara Procedures and Review will explain in detail the various aspects of Chevra Kadisha work and provide the opportunity to ask questions.
Everyone is encouraged to submit questions about Jewish burial or end of life practices which will be answered throughout the weekend. Questions should be submitted to the synagogue office or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All events are open to the community. Reservations for Shabbat dinner are needed by Jan. 4 on the synagogue website at www.orthodoxomaha.org, by calling the office at 402.556.6288 or emailing email@example.com.