Let’s face it. Nobody really wants to talk about what their family should do when they die. Some people think that by taking out life insurance or writing a will or buying burial plots, they are tempting fate—giving themselves an ayin harah, or they find the topic too depressing. However, the fact is that by doing so now, when you and your loved ones are healthy, you’ll save your family headaches and some heartache later.
Congregation Bnai Yeshurun and the National Association of Chevra Kadisha are presenting a Yom Iyun on Sunday, February 11, at 9 a.m. at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. The topic of the Yom Iyun is “Preparing for the Inevitable.” Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, director of the Chevra Kadisha, Vaad Harabonim of Queens and president of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha, will be the featured speaker. He will discuss end-of-life issues on such topics as halachic wills, hospice and palliative care, caring for elderly parents, purchasing burial plots, encouraging Jewish burial and more.
Rabbi Zohn will talk about these things from a frum perspective. Often medical decisions and burial decisions have to be made and the family is not prepared because they never discussed what their family member wanted. By encouraging families to have these discussions now, while everyone is healthy, it helps when, God forbid, the time comes. At least then the family knows they are fulfilling their loved one’s wishes and are following halacha because they took the time to research and agree on the issues.
Following Rabbi Zohn’s shiur there will be a program for Chevra Kadisha members beginning at 11:30 a.m. While most shuls have their own Chevra Kadishas with their own minhagim, Rabbi Zohn will give a review and explanation of the basic Tahara process. People who make up the Chevra Kadishas are volunteers who give of their time to perform this Chesed Shel Emet. This refresher course will be followed by a question and answer session.
The National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK) was created to assist affiliated Chevros Kadisha in defining, establishing and achieving the highest degree of Kovod Hames (respect for the deceased) as defined by Jewish law. NASCK also creates and advances programs and initiatives to promote traditional Jewish end-of-life values.
The event is being sponsored by Care One at Teaneck, Ascend Hospice and Ascend Home Health. Simeon Ratner, director of community relations for Care One at Teaneck, told the Jewish Link, “Care One at Teaneck and our sister company, Ascend Hospice and Ascend Home Health, are sponsoring this event because we feel it is a great way to inform the Jewish community about our end-of-life care options and our certified Jewish hospice option. Many people harbor negative stereotypes regarding hospice. We want the local Jewish community to be informed about what hospice really is and what it has to offer. This will allow individuals to make the best decision for their loved ones in their time of need.”
Congregation Bnai Yeshurun is located at 641 West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck. The Yom Iyun is free and open to the Bergen County Jewish Community. To register, visit www.ckofbc.org. This event is dedicated in memory of long-time leaders of their respective Chevra Kadishas: Mr. Jospeh Appel (Bnai Yeshuran-Men), Mrs. Sandy Bodenheimer (Bnai Yeshurun-Women) and Mr. Arnon Hiller (Rinat Yisrael-Men).
By Sara Kosowsky Gross