I have a ritual.
It's a sad one, and it's one I don't like doing. But being a part of a caring community means that I must oblige.
Every Wednesday, the Rabbi's secretary sends out an updated list of life-cycle events for the month. There are categories for "Honorable Menschen," Engagements (and I was thrilled to see my name in there last month), Weddings, Anniversaries, Births, those in need of healing, and those who have died recently.
My ritual is that I read this list and pay special attention to those who have died. More specifically, which participants have lost a grand-parent or, God forbid, a parent. Who needs comfort?
My job, but more importantly my passion, is to care for those around me. I just hate opening these documents, knowing that a loved one has been lost.
In a meeting about my possible future Rabbinate, a friend asked me, "what's your greatest fear about becoming a Rabbi?" I answered "funerals and circumcisions." The friend laughed and said "you know you don't actually cut the kid, right?" Yes, I did. And, truth be told, I will probably get over that fear. Funerals, though. That will take some work.
Death is something Jewish professionals deal with a lot. There are various ways of coping. How do you cope with loss? How can you be a support to those who are dealing with loss?
I ask because I am genuinely interested in your thoughts. I hope we can all learn something.
4 years ago