Death and afterlife care can be uncomfortable and often difficult topics to discuss, but they are universal for human beings. It’s no secret that various religions consist of belief systems that help make sense of, and offer guidelines to navigate, these complex issues—and the same is true in Judaism. Within Judaism, there are a number of rituals.
Aleph Home Care, a local home care agency and department of the Jewish Federation providing personal care, companion care, transitional care nursing, and transportation services to help older adults age in place, is teaming up with the Chevra Kadisha of Cherry Hill, the local Jewish burial society, to explore how Jews care for the deceased and why it matters. This cost-free, virtual program, “The Eternity of Our Soul,” will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m.
The presentation will be led by Yael Davidowitz, the director of outreach for the Jewish Burial Society of South Jersey and director of Last Kindness, a project of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha. Davidowitz is a nurse practitioner who has been involved in Jewish afterlife care for over a decade.
“We will all lose someone at some point, and we will all die. Despite this reality, most people avoid the topic—often because the questions seem so much better than the answers. Judaism, however, has stunning clarity about what happens when we die and how to care for those who pass away,” Davidowitz said.
Not only are these discussions important, Davidowitz explained, but they are also relevant at more stages and ages in life than one might think. “The ‘how and why’ Jews care for those who pass away is not just about the last stop in our life journey. It speaks to the purpose of life itself and can inform how we live life. This information is not just for seniors— I’ve presented it to high school students who find it deeply meaningful. It’s never too early to learn,” Davidowitz said.
During the program, Davidowitz will educate listeners about Jewish burial laws, traditions, and thoughts. For example, Davidowitz explained that according to the Torah, the “neshama” or soul is the real essence of every person and souls don’t die. Everything humans do to care for the body, the soul’s life partner, from the time of death through the burial is done in sensitivity to the soul’s concern that its body is treated with the utmost respect.
“Burial in the earth is the greatest kindness we can do for someone who passed away. Jewish burial in its simplicity is gentle, respectful, and eco-friendly,” said Davidowitz. “Jewish burial is kind to the body, kind to the soul, and kind to the planet.”
Those interested in hearing Davidowitz shed more light on this important and valuable topic can register to attend the session via Zoom by visiting alephsnj.org/eternity.
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