Teachings: Mourning

Understanding Yizkor and Yartzeit

We begin with a short mitzvah story about yizkor and yarzeit, the Jewish memorial spiritual practices for a loved one that take place annually on the anniversary of the person's death, as well as on specific holidays. This article will then continue with how to enter into yartzeit and yizkor as spiritual practices for both home and synagogue.

Jewish Approach to an Unveiling of a Headstone

l. Select a psalm, poem or melody that speak to the occasion.

2. Remove the veil and quietly be with the stone, the place, the memories.

3. Invite sharing if that feels safe and appropriate.

4. Optional: chant or read the traditional prayer El Malei Rachamim

The Lament: Hidden Key to Effective Listening

by Barry Bub, MD

This free example article is from the recently released 2nd edition of Seeking and Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Guidance and Development, published in honor of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Eds. Rabbis Goldie Milgram and Shohama Wiener, Reclaiming Judaism Press.
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Configuring Grief in Spiritual Terms

by Rabbi Anne Brener

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Brener's chapter in Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Direction, a Reclaiming Judaism Press volume created in honor of Rabbi Shohama Wiener in order to reveal the leading teachers, methods and value of the emerging profession of mashpia - Jewish spiritual director.

So many people come to spiritual direction after a loss. Very often their sense of God has been shattered. They may feel betrayed or abandoned by the God that may have been their bedrock in the past.

Jewish Miscarriage Ritual

Traditional and Contemporary Considerations and Approaches

This is one of several types of miscarriage ritual that I have conducted. Pastorally, rabbis of all denominations have quietly created rituals to help deal with the grief and trauma of miscarriage. "Officiating" at the burial of a fetus is not a Jewish practice. The tradition's perspective is that this was not a "viable life from" and so was aborted by the Source, ultimately to the benefit of all, despite how hard it is to endure the loss of a wanted pregnancy. Ritual and pastoral support is important for those who are mourning the misfortune of a miscarriage.

Halachically, a child [one who achieves the departure of it's head from the birth canal] who dies in less than thirty full days of life is given taharah (ritual of gentle washing), named, buried but has no official mourning period. Mourning rituals for miscarriage are not recorded our ancient texts, many have been created by Jewish women. I always customize rituals based on the need of those involved.

Jewish Death and Dying: Prayer for Hearing of a Death

When we hear someone has died, we need a way to express ourselves. Jewish tradition provides a very powerful and brief sacred phrase: baruch dayan ha'emet (pronounced bah-rukh, dah-yahn, hah'eh-meht). This phrase seems to be the bare minimum of a blessing, truncated from our usual blessing form, as many as twelve terms short*; cut down, as has been a life.

What does this phrase mean?

Book Review: Jo Jo, A Black Bear Pennsylvania Story

This book review by Rabbi Goldie Milgram first appeared in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Short books, available only by download, are a recent trend.