Has anyone in my readership attended? How is Maavor Yabbok explained for our age? Does it integrate contemporary spirituality or does it fly in the face of it to seek a traditional hesed shel emet? Looking at the schedules of the prior conferences it seems a mixture of practice, traditional thinking, and modern spirituality. The early conferences had Maurice Lamm and Benjamin Blech, they all have Simcha Raphael who wrote Jewish view of the Afterlife. I have dealt with some of this before on Zayin Adar-Hevra Kadisha and Contemporary Orthodox Death.
The Chevra Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference is two days — June 12-14 — of intense learning focused on the end of life continuum. From bikkur cholim, to tahara and shmira, funeral and burial and mourning, this conference allows every participant to immerse in the knowledge, resources, texts, and discussions vital to working in their own community.
Don’t miss the “live” tahara demo, halacha of intermarried burials, active listening, marketing traditional funerals and burials, infection control, history of the Jewish Sacred Society, autopsy and medical examiners, non-profit funeral homes, transgender issues, cemetery consecration, Maavor Yabbok text study, healing, cemetery finances, bereavement photography, genealogy, cemetery regulators and much more. Plus lots of networking, discussing, strategizing, sharing and supporting.
All Kosher meals are provided. Chicago is a major airport hub. Hotel rates are very reasonable. Home hospitality is available upon request
Registration is simple – just click here or go to our web site –
I actually will be teaching a session on Tumah and Tahara there, I was asked to go “deep into the topic”. My connection is with a liberal Jew (using the term as religious description) who is one of the founders of a local progressive hevra kasisha. One of the issues I have to address is why do a taharah on a dead body which is the strongest category of tumah? What does a taharah do? I have done some reasearch, but if anyone has ideas, please share with me.
I have found that there is interest in the liberal community for having their own hevre. It is not an anti orthodox move, but rather taking on the full responsibility of being a community. People find the experience both humbling and empowering.
I would add an additional/different insight to R. Balinsky’s. Out here in the groovy, aged hippie/New Age/seeking spirituality locales, hevre kadisha is becoming popular like a lot of other Renewal activities. It is another ‘spiritual’ activity. As such, they introduce (unless protested) all manner of singing, chants, incense, etc. – all in the name of doing a tahara and “midwifing a soul”. I participated at a recent local hevra kadisha panel, and the woman next to me on the panel (a PhD. in clinical social work) spoke all about ‘energy’ changes.
Like many other rituals becoming popular with the Renewal/New Age crowd, hevra kadisha is being turned into a syncretistic product as much or more than it is a continuation of traditional Jewish beliefs and practices.
If you want book knowledge, then you can contact me privately later this season. If you want real hands on knowledge, my wife has done over 265 taharas (it is her mizvah) and she can tell you what the people who do taharas think. As I type this, she is telling me it is more the hesed shel emes aspects.
Coming a bit late to this exchange….I gave two presentations at the 2005 conference in NYC, as the founder of a 75-member traditional egalitarian Hevra Kadisha in Brooklyn. I’ve also translated sections of the Hebrew critical edition of Ma’avar Yabbok for the educational programs I offer–including our upcoming “Sacred Undertaking” training in Connecticut this August (http://isabellafreedman.org/sacredundertaking).
I wouldn’t over-dualize “contemporary spirituality” and “traditional hesed shel emet.” Those who dismiss singing during taharah as “New Age” should consider the following passage from Ma’avar Yabbok (Part I / Chapter 31):
“And it is written…that three forces of the Holy Blessed One come among God’s cherished people in the power of chants, songs and praises….And it said that there is a chamber hidden above that cannot be opened except through melody / niggun….And the soul benefits from the niggun as it is familiar with melodies of the song of the ministering angels and the song of the celestial wheels….And the niggun when it ascends, ascends through six / sheish levels, and also when it descends, descends through six; and about this it is said: ‘His legs are pillars of marble / sheish’ [Song of Songs 5:15, part of the traditional liturgy for taharah].”
May we go from strength to strength–in this Season of Revelation and beyond.