“May the Source of Life comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” ~Traditional
Judaism is a religion that affirms life and places value on the health of the body and mind. Judaism is also realistic in acknowledging that we do not live forever, and we do not ever really know what lies beyond the body’s death. Congregation B’nai Torah is a congregational community that cares about each person and family, and there is a “caring committee” of rotating CBT members who lead others in the mitzvah of (bikkur cholim) - visiting and taking care of the sick. When notified of someone who is ill, the rabbi will also try to make home or hospital visits to those who are sick, recovering from surgery, or otherwise infirmed.
In the case of a death of a member or a member’s immediate family, the rabbi will work together with the funeral home, the family of the deceased and the synagogue administrator to ascertain whether the family would like to hold the funeral at the synagogue, at a local funeral home, or at the cemetery itself. The rabbi is also available to meet with families to discuss pre-funeral arrangements and to provide guidance about end-of-life decision making for members and their loved ones. As is customary, families may also elect to hold services at home during the week following the funeral (shiva) led by the rabbi and/or lay service leaders. In the case of a recent death, the name of the deceased will be read during Friday evening Shabbat services, beginning the Friday following the funeral and continuing for a total of 4 consecutive weeks. This thirty-day period is known as shloshim. Members may also elect to have the name of the deceased called out at the yearly anniversaries of the death of their loved one (yahrzeit), and at the afternoon Memorial Service on Yom Kippur (yizkor). Congregation B’nai Torah also encourages families to set up what is known as a “Perpetual Yahrzeit” for their loved ones, which includes affixing a permanent plaque in the Sanctuary in his or her memory.