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Jewish Death Practices:
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Taste of Gamliel

A Taste Of Gamliel - We've Got Soul!

Your Life Is Over: Do You Know Where Your Soul Is? This is the challenging and exciting theme of this year's Taste of Gamliel series, and we are proud to say that "We've Got Soul."

Our guest teachers are Rabbi T'mimah Ickovits, Dr. Eitan Fishbane, Rabbi Burt Visotsky, Rabbi Goldie Milgram, and Rabbi Elie Spitz.

Our series starts off on Sunday evening, February 1 with The Magical Soul Tour. Rabbi T'mimah Ickovits will present on "The Souls Journey - From Zohar to Maavar Yabbok to Tahara Manuals" as she traces how the kabbalistic tradition carries through the Chevra Kadisha's foundational texts. Just before death and immediately after death are key moments of sensitivity for the Neshama. The chevra kadisha's loving presence cares for the soul and eases the transition. We'll review the role of the angels and the recurring importance of the sacred number 7 as we dip our toes into the waters of kabbalah.

On Sunday, March 1, Dr. Eitan Fishbane will speak on "The Soul as True Self: Personal Identity & Reincarnation in Kabbalistic Thought." He'll be followed on Sunday March 29 by Rabbi Burt Visotzky who will present on the "Priest's Wife and the Thief in the Orchard: Body and Soul in 5th Century Roman Galilee". We'll be studying Midrash Leviticus Rabbah, Ch. 4.

We take a break in April for Pesach, but we come back on Wednesday evening, May 20 to hear Rabbi Goldie Milgram speak on "When Spirits Visit from the Other Side: Sharing Stories, Texts and Experiences". And we'll conclude the series on Sunday June 7 with Rabbi Elie Spitz, author of Does the Soul Survive?

Attend as many of these presentations as are of interest to you. Each session is between 60 and 90 minutes in duration. As always, there will be time for questions and discussions at the end of each program. Let's all have soul!

The entire series is free, but we ask that you make a minimum donation of $36 for the five sessions. 

Click the link to register and for more information. We'll send you the directions to the join the webinar 24 hours before the session.

Taste of Gamliel are webinars that focus on a single topic and are free and open to the public. Registration is required. Suggestions for future topics are welcome. 



Requests to view past recordings should be made to

A series of four webinars were presented in 2012-2013:

  • Tahara Liturgy: Unraveling the Secrets - Rabbi Stuart Kelman and Dan Fendel - October 28, 2012
  • Tahara and Infection Control - Dr. Joel Ackelsberg - Tuesday December 18, 2012
  • Chevra Kadisha Leadership and Teamwork - Drs. Michael Slater and Shoshana E. Waskow - Monday Feb 18, 2013
  • Ritual washing after death for a non-Jewish spouse.  Krovei Yisrael at the end of life: Implications for liturgy and chevra kadisha planning - Rick Light and Rabbi Stuart Kelman - Sunday April 28, 2013


Effective Tahara Team Leadership

How best to help your team help the met. The practice of tahara is a complex process which places physical, emotional, and spiritual demands on a group of people who come together on an ad hoc basis.  The stress of performing taharot can be eased by the presence of a skilled team leader.  A good leader can help team members negotiate both the technical and the emotional/spiritual aspects of the process.  In this session, participants will discuss their own experiences of team membership and leadership, both in the context of chevra kadisha and other life experiences.  Out of this discussion, we will come to a deeper understanding of what it means to work as part of a team and how to lead a tahara more effectively.  We will also discuss ideas of teamwork and leadership adapted from other disciplines.

Infection Control
Presented by Dr. Joel Ackelsberg Healthcare providers have developed practices that can help prevent the spread of disease-causing micro-organisms from one person to another. These practices also protect medical professionals from unwittingly being exposed to known or unknown infections carried by their patients. Some disease-causing micro-organisms could be transmitted from a met(ah) to a tahara team member or unknowingly transported on clothing to their homes. If the methods routinely used in healthcare settings ("infection control precautions") are incorporated into tahara activities, potential transmission risks can be reduced. This Webinar will review the limited potential infectious risks faced by chevra kadisha members and ways to reduce the risk of spreading infectious micro-organisms that might be present in a dead body.

Tahara Liturgy
When the Tahara liturgy is recited the words are often said perfunctorily, if at all; sometimes in English, usually mumbled in Hebrew.  We want to be able to take the recitation to a higher level, to gain a deeper understanding of the workings of the ritual, and ultimately, to release the mysteries of taharah.  The liturgy gives us insight into Jewish theology as well as into how we care for the body of the met/metah. The liturgy is the response to subtle and often hidden questions. Our task is to decipher the underlying needs or questions and see how the prayer responds to those needs or questions.   We will begin to unpack the prayers by understanding how they work and how they function, rather than what they mean. We do this by applying the principles of liturgical analysis to help show the beauty of these words and actions.

Taste of Gamliel - Krovei Yisrael Power Point