Search Results for: 7th of adar

For years now, I have searched for the melody of my masculinity in the words and poetry of women’s and non-binary folx’s songs. With this search came an implicit understanding that there was a limit the ability of men, particularly cis-men, to compose gentleness; at best, I believed, we could play out weak imitations of our siblings’ and parents’ music. The men of the hevra kadisha have taught me otherwise. Their care has shown me the possibility that men can contribute new harmonies and timbre to the ongoing composition of our people’s melody of tenderness and care for the living and for the dead.

As the Chair of our congregational Chevra Kadisha, I am often asked by the mourner who they can thank for doing the Taharah for their loved one. In response, I explain that it is a time honored tradition that we do not reveal the identities of the Taharah team for any specific Taharah. For most of us on the Chevra Kadisha, it is the anonymity that is a strong attraction to being part of this group. The idea that we would be thanked for doing this work is not only strange but creates a certain anxiety. 

We place you in the casket, tie a few more knots, and swaddle you up.  I know almost nothing about your life in the more than ninety years since you were first swaddled, with awe and love, the same way we are doing it now.  But you did it, Bubbie. You’ve arrived at the last event.  We close the top of the casket, which is not to be reopened.  We were the last ones to witness your physical life.  Tomorrow, the people who really know you will gather to mourn and celebrate and cry and laugh and bury.

By reframing the Chevrah Kaddish as an opportunity rather than an obligation, we have formed a holy community that includes all members of the community who each participate at their own comfort level, from the very young to the very old. Some of our members became involved when they came to make their own final arrangements and became active participants. This is still a university town and students are also an important part of the team.  I am proud to be a part of this holy community.

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