Jewish Rites of Death: Stories of Beauty and Transformation by Richard A. LightJewish Rites of Death: Stories of Beauty and Transformation by Richard A. Light

Jewish Rites of Death: Stories of Beauty and Transformation

byRichard A. LightPhotographed byThea LightForeword byJack Riemer

Paperback | May 31, 2016

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Death is the ultimate transformative experience. For Jewish communities, the ways this is dealt with-shaped by millennia of custom and belief-do more than routinely follow a set of prescribed practices; they provide an opening to a series of traditions compelling in their profound beauty and power. In Jewish Rites of Death, Rick Light presents both a practical, informative guide to these practices and a compendium in which local volunteers who bring the blessings of these traditions to both the deceased and the bereaved write of the immeasurable enhancement their own lives have gained from them as well. As the personal stories of author and his contributors make clear, the prayers, the physical actions in preparing the dead for burial, and the intentions of the heart involved in Jewish death rituals open a unique window on the fine line a soul passes over between this world and the next.Those choosing to involve themselves with the crossing of this boundary tell in Jewish Rites of Death of feelings, thoughts, inspiration-and maybe even a little wisdom-that result from their shared experiences. Jewish tradition teaches that death is not taboo or hidden; it is simply part of the cycle of events that constitute a life. In its deepest sense, this book offers basic and eternal truths on what it really means to be human.
Title:Jewish Rites of Death: Stories of Beauty and TransformationFormat:PaperbackDimensions:164 pages, 9 × 9 × 1 inPublished:May 31, 2016Publisher:Terra Nova BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1938288556

ISBN - 13:9781938288555

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Read from the Book

Have you ever done something holy, or felt that what you did was very close to what we know is holy? For most of us, this doesn't happen often. Yet when it does, it is a life-changing event. In writing this book, my hope is that you become open to more such experiences.I'm not talking about joining a spiritual group or going to religious services. Instead, I invite you to explore the boundary between death and life. In the pages ahead, we will witness an amazing set of rituals that honor both the dead and the living, while uplifting both; it is a process that gives those who participate the rare opportunity to experience what I can only call "the holiness of being." It is the presence we feel when we enter into the "liminal space" that is the boundary between life and death. Feeling this, knowing this, is the passion behind this book. It is an extraordinary experience that is worth sharing with everyone, even if some may not wish to participate.Jewish communities take care of their dead through an organization known as the Chevrah Kadisha. Though this book fully explains the work and scope of these chevrot in preparing the dead for burial, and introduces you to the ways in which we help, it does not get into any gory details. Rather, it provides an opening to the profound beauty and power of Jewish death-related traditions.Being human also includes striving to live the full potential of our being. We seek to know who we are. And we want to live lives that matter. For many people, volunteering to do work that aids others, or to do jobs that contribute to the welfare of the community, adds more value to life. Those who volunteer for the Chevrah Kadisha have the special honor of helping those who cannot thank them, and, more than that, have the privilege of entering into the "liminal space." It is a space that includes both the momentary awareness of the infinite connectedness of all that is, and the "breath-on-your-cheek" closeness of death, a reminder that souls with bodies and souls without bodies are not separated by much, if at all.We walk away blessed with renewed wonder, gratitude, and enthusiasm for life. Participating in chevrah work can be a truly transformative experience that enhances what it means to be human, and infuses our lives with greater appreciation for the amazing people with whom we share this world. It is for me the highest honor to do this mitzvah, to share its blessings, and to promote it.I invite you to join me on this pat

Editorial Reviews

"Rick Light has written a moving, important, and impassioned book on a subject that is no one's favorite. He offers scholarly sources, intimate encounters with death from a variety of voices, and a well-organized, useful book for all who are planning to die." -- Rabbi Malka Drucker