מכון גמליאל

Course 1: Chevrah Kadisha: History, Origins and Evolution

Location: Online via Zoom
Dates: 4/18-7/11
Cost: $500 
Discounts available for clergy and groups of three or more


Gamliel student login for course materials.

The Gamliel Institute is a center for study, training, and advocacy concerning Jewish end-of-life practices. 

Currently no North American rabbinical school, chaplaincy, mortuary, or thanatology certification program offers a comprehensive, articulated certification program to deal with all the issues surrounding the end of life from a Jewish perspective. The Gamliel Institute fills that gap by addressing issues and challenges impacting us, our families and our Jewish communities across North America.

The centerpiece of the Institute is a certification program based on five 12-week core courses. These central courses focus on five major areas: Chevra Kadisha history, taharah and shmirah, education and training strategies, nechamah, and ritual and liturgy. The certification program also includes a student project course that enables students to apply their learning. These in-depth courses provide a foundation for local community leadership and education and for starting, managing, and training local Chevra Kadisha groups, through inspiring and stimulating explorations of all aspects of Jewish practices toward the end of life.

There is a hunger for in-depth education in Jewish death practices. The Gamliel Institute fills this critical void in education and service delivery and has the potential to change the current culture surrounding end-of-life issues in the Jewish community—to help individuals and communities move from denial and neglect to awareness, acceptance, and healthy integration into family and community life.

Who was Rabban Gamliel? 

Rabban Gamliel, for whom the Institute is named, was the leader of the Sanhedrin, the central Jewish court during the first century CE, and considered a well-respected elder of the Jewish community. He put forth that in death we are all equal, and that one’s resources or status in life should not impact the level of respect and honor one receives in death.  The Babylonian Talmud recounts many of his teachings, including the section in Moed Katan (27a-27b):

“Formerly, the expense of carrying out the dead was harder on the family than the death itself; the family therefore abandoned the corpse and fled… [This practice changed when] Rabban Gamliel [President of the Sanhedrin] disregarded his own dignity, and had his body carried out in flaxen shrouds. Afterwards, all the people followed his lead and had themselves carried out in flaxen shrouds.”

Learn more about Gamliel courses:

In addition to the certification program described above, the Institute also offers a variety of shorter lecture-series offerings throughout each year. See the course catalog for details about the core curriculum as well as the schedule for this year’s course offerings.

Click to view the Gamliel Institute Course Catalog.

Click to view the Gamliel Institute Academic Bulletin.

Student Projects Examples:

Tea, Cake, Death: Death Cafe as an Educational Tool for Jewish Communities

by Rena Boroditsky

Picture This

by Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky

Soul and Body

by Rick Light