upcoming courses


Course 1

Chevra Kadisha – The Holy Society

Tuesday Evenings, Sept. 24 - Dec. 17, 2013

Judaism’s approach to death and dying is one of the richest of all religions. Issues of ritual, the actual process of dying and letting go, preparation of the body, burial, mourning, comforting the bereaved —

for the individual and for the community — all resonate well with modern concepts of sociology and psychology. The Chevra Kadisha is the traditional institution which supports and assists Jewish families and communities in dealing with these end-of-life passages.

In this course we will study death and mourning, the evolution of and the need for the Chevra Kadisha, different community models and rituals, challenges for natural disasters, the institution and the larger community, Chevra Kadisha leadership and future challenges to this traditional Jewish institution.

- Chevra Kadisha sources: Texts and Practices

- Chevra Kadisha evolution: Middle Ages  to Early Modern Period

- Chevra Kadisha evolution: North America before 1960

- Chevra Kadisha evolution: North America  after 1960

- Chevra Kadisha models in North America before 1975

- Chevra Kadisha models in North America  after 1975

- Back to the Future: Recreating the role of  the Chevra Kadisha

- Meit Mitzvah: Local Jewish communal involvement

- Chevra Kadisha in the larger (non-Jewish) community

- Chevra Kadisha and Disasters

- Chevra Kadisha: Future challenges and opportunities

Course Three

Chevra Kadisha Educating — Training and Organizing

Wednesday Evenings, Sept. 24* - Dec. 18, 2013

* This is a shared session with the Tuesday class to work out log-in issues, technical matters and make certain everyone can access the online sessions.

Chevra Kadisha work may be stimulated when a member of the community dies and people wish to provide help and comfort to the family. A passionate speech from the bimah can inspire the beginnings

of a community’s Chevra Kadisha. In most cases, the education, organizing, and training process works best when it is ongoing, expanding and motivating. When education, organizing and training create a context and strong foundation for the formation and development of a Chevra Kadisha, they nurture the chevra’s growthand helps insure its long-term success.

Chevra Kadisha education, organizing and training is about Jewish practices, from serious illness,

through dying, death, care for the deceased, emotional comfort for the bereaved, grief and mourning.

It incorporates the historical and textual basis for these Jewish death practices and highlights the importance of an ongoing organized communal response to death and illuminates the rewards and challenges associated with the work of the Chevra Kadisha.

- Chevra Kadisha educating, organizing and training

- Content resources

- Educational plan

- What motivates us and our students

- Educating adults, youth and children

- Chevra Kadisha organizing

- Tahara training

- Leadership training

- Funeral homes

- Cemeteries

- Interacting with funeral homes

Students will research, develop and plan the implementation of a Chevra Kadisha educational program.

Study Formats:

individual; group; chevruta; video/audio on-line. Learning methods: reading, listening, watching; discussing; writing and experiencing.

Learner’s Course Commitment:

• 12 weeks of study  • 90 minutes per week on-line session  • three hours/week of reading  • Class assignments

All you need is a computer with a webcam, microphone and internet connection and you can take this course anywhere. Tuition is $1,000 per course, some scholarships are available.

For further information, call 410-733-3700 or email: info@jewish-funerals.org

Course Two

Chevra Kadisha — Tahara and Shmira

Tuesday Evenings, Jan. 7 - Mar. 31, 2014

To simply describe Tahara as the traditional Jewish practice of washing, purifying, and dressing the deceased is technically correct.  To just describe Shmira as the traditional Jewish practice of watching

and guarding the deceased is also technically correct. But both definitions are woefully inadequate.

Tahara and Shmira are powerful emotional, psychological, and spiritual rituals that can challenge our acceptance of death denial, shake us from the complacency of seeing death around us and not engaging, and make clear to us the importance of valuing our life. Tahara is physical, but it is also emotional. Shmira may appear to be mundane, but it is quite spiritual. Both can be uncomfortable, but can also be sublimely beautiful. In this course we will study not only the techniques of Tahara and Shmira but also the powerful spiritual and emotional experiences that can likely develop from engaging in them.

- Introduction to Tahara

- Understanding Tahara

- Tahara education and training

- Questions about Tahara

- Tahara complications

- Processing emotions

- Tahara manuals

- Tahara liturgy

- Tahara basics, Tachrichim and Aron

- Tahara room safety

- Shmira - Guarding

- Tahara facilities