Request For Scholarship Funds for the Chevra Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference

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Chevra Kadisha Conference Description
Seven years ago with tremendous support from Chevra Kadisha groups all over North America, Kavod v’Nichum held its first annual North American conference.  Our interdenominational organization was born out of the need for individuals who were largely involved in not-for-profit aspects of death and dying, Chevra Kadishas, throughout North America, to come together for the first time in history for the purpose of learning and fostering the mitzvoth of k’vod hamet (respect for the dead) and nichum aveylim (comforting the mourner). Attendance at each of the last 7 conferences has averaged 150 attendees from all over the world. 

The need is great and urgent:  we believe that creating Chevra Kadishas throughout the community will not only assist in fulfilling these mitzvoth, but also bring about true synagogue transformation.  We have witnessed this in many synagogues.  The need is also testified by the fact that by June 2009, more than 1 million people have visited our web site.  A remarkable number by any standard!  And proof of the quest for knowledge by lay and professional alike.
We in the [fill in region] have xx functioning Chevra Kadishas.  We could easily have more.  Conference attendance is usually from both lay people and Jewish professionals.  This is a unique opportunity for us here to be able to bring local people to this conference for the purpose of training and organizing and meeting others from around North America who have similar interests.  Hence, our request is to provide scholarships of $1000 for 5 individuals to attend this conference.  It is a unique opportunity.
Furthermore, at this conference we will have students of the Gamliel Institute, a three-year, on-line credential program in Chevra Kadisha work.  Parts of the conference program will demonstrate this eLearning model.  Once people leave the conference, they will have the ability to continue their learning focusing on history, text sources, current models and extensive resources in the areas of Chevra Kadisha, Organizing and Education, Funeral and Burial, Jewish traditional practices, ritual washing and guarding, and providing comfort. 
Funding Priorities of the Foundation and Federation
Our work is a blend of Jewish Education, Community Outreach, and Social Services. We educate families about traditional Jewish practices and provide service and comfort at their time of need. We address issues such as affordability of high funeral prices, end of life rituals for those who are intermarried, and traumatic and early death. Our work strengthens the bonds between families and their synagogue community. We see a deepened understanding of communal responsibility and startling new insights into spirituality. This transformation of communities can only occur by a redefinition of how we view this time of life.  We prefer to view this as continuum of care – thus providing a more holistic approach to what has typically been called end-of-life.

Community Support
In the development of the Conference and the Gamliel Institute we have received the total support of the [fill in region] Board of Rabbis. [fill in funeral home] has been part of our discussions. Obviously, the existing Chevra Kadishas have full knowledge of our plans – and a number of members have participated in previous conferences.  We intend to be in touch with [fill in Jewish Family Services, hospice, etc] as well as the synagogue community to promote both the Conference and Gamliel Institute. 
At every conference we ask attendees to provide both oral and written feedback. Responses are uniformly enthusiastic with issues addressed ranging from what participants have learned to what they will bring back to their communities. Contacts with others involved in this holy work are especially noted.