Sign In Forgot Password

CK - Questions and Answers


Explanation of commonly used terms: 

Bikkur Cholim: “Visiting the sick”.

Chevra Kadisha: “Sacred society” – members of the Jewish community who join together to care for the met/metah and their families, from the time of death to burial. It is one of the oldest institutions in Jewish life, though its prominence in American Jewish life waned in the 20th Century with the advent of the modern, professionalized funeral industry. 

Hesed: “Loving-kindness” – Bnai Keshet’s outreach committee to those who are ill or troubled.

Interfaith tahara and shmira: The BK community fully supports these practices if desired by the family.

Interfaith burial: Please contact the rabbis for information on cemetery options.

Kavod ha-met/metah: “Honoring and showing respect for the dignity of the deceased,” the primary intention of those caring for the met/metah from the moment of death until burial.

Kavod v’Nichum: “Honor and comfort” – an educational and activist, non-profit umbrella organization of chevre kadisha throughout North America that assists and advises Jewish communities of every denomination on chevra kadisha issues and practices.

Met/metah: The male or female deceased.

Nichum aveilim: “Comforting the mourners” – one of the two fundamental intentions of chevre kadisha. When the burial has been completed, the primary focus shifts from kavod ha-met/metah to comforting those who have become mourners and have entered shiva.

Shiva: Seven-day period of mourning observed by families of the deceased. 

Shmira: “Guarding” or “watching” – an around-the-clock vigil in the presence of the met/metah from the time of death until burial. Shmira is intended to provide spiritual comfort to the soul of the deceased and to the family. The shomer/shomeret recites psalms or poems, sings or reads spiritual selections. 

Tachrichim: Traditional and simple white garments used to clothe the met/metah in preparation for burial.

Tahara: “Making pure” – preparation of the met/metah for burial. Tahara includes traditional prayers, physical and ritual washing, dressing the met/metah in tachrichim and laying him/her in the casket. 

Viddui: The Jewish deathbed confessional prayer typically recited when death seems imminent; said in Hebrew or English by the dying person, loved ones or a rabbi, it permits pauses for people to give voice to their deepest thoughts, regrets or guilt, and provides an opportunity ask forgiveness of one another.

Organ and tissue donation in the Jewish tradition: Although a historically complicated issue, currently there is general agreement that these practices are encouraged whenever possible. Click for further readings.

Sat, September 30 2023 15 Tishrei 5784