Grieving at the IJC

During this past month, I often thought about death. On a personal level, the Yahrzeits of my father-in-law and my brother take place in January. At the community level, the IJC sat a zoom Shiva for our youngest member, day-old Lior, with his parents Marie-France and John. We also commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945 and the Shoah’s six million victims. Although death is not an easy or popular subject, it is an inevitable part of human existence and the IJC is here to help and support its members.


We partner with the Progressive undertaker Gan Hashalom for the practicalities of a funeral and finding of a burial site. Detailed information about this partnership will be included on our new website.

During the past two years, Rabbi Brian has been called upon to perform several funerals. We support bereaved members as they transition through their mourning process. The community shows its true heart and soul when we come together for specific Jewish rituals such as Shiva and providing food to the bereaved during the time of mourning. Every year, on the anniversary of the death of a loved one, we say a prayer in the synagogue, the Mourner’s Kaddish, and light a candle.

There are other important aspects to the Jewish rituals of dying. They include preparing the body for burial. It is a matter of loving-kindness to perform the ritual of Tahara, cleansing, and purification of the body. Someone once said that performing Tahara is like giving birth to souls. The IJC shares the Chevra Kadisha - the Jewish Funeral Society - with Beth Hillel. Anyone can contribute. Rabbis will provide the training. Please consider volunteering as an IJC representative on our joint IJC/Beth Hillel Chevra Kadisha. This is the ultimate act of loving kindness - since it is done anonymously and without any material reward. 

I do not want to write more about death. I hope that the opportunities to participate in Shivas and Chevra Kadisha rituals are rare. But I am proud of the way our community unites and works to ease the pain of passing.

Anu Ristola

IJC President