Kavod v’Nichum (KvN, translated as Honor and Comfort), Judaism’s most comprehensive end-of-life education and training organization, has been named one of North America’s top 50 innovative Jewish organizations in the ninth annual Slingshot Guide, A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation, released on October 24, 2013. Selected from among hundreds of finalists reviewed by 83 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life, Kavod v’Nichum’s work is seen as “timely, unique and ubiquitous [in an] area of concern that is overlooked by most in our community.” Organizations selected were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact of their work, leadership they have in their sector and their effectiveness at achieving results.
Kavod v’Nichum began its work in November of 2000 as a North American educational non-profit. The name comes from the two basic purposes of the Chevrah Kadisha. Kavod v’Nichum is dedicated to the reclaiming the mitzvot of Kavod Ha-Met, honoring the dead, and Nichum Aveilim, consoling the bereaved. KvN advocates a return to an authentic and communal Jewish response toward illness, death, burial and mourning, plus strengthening individual and community efforts to organize caring communities and Chevrah Kadisha groups. KvN strives for the protection of bereaved families from commercial exploitation around funeral and burial. KvN encourages traditional values and practices, and works with individuals and communities to adapt those traditions in new and meaningful ways.
Kavod v’Nichum is a non-profit organization dedicated to making the Jewish end-of-life experience remarkable. Across North America, KvN educates and trains, establishes and vitalizes Chevrah Kadisha groups (holy burial societies) following traditional Jewish practices that provide respect, guidance, and support to the dying, deceased, and bereaved. Along with the Gamliel Institute, KvN offers the Jewish community an array of exceptional educational and participatory opportunities — general Jewish practices classes, detailed text study, community training sessions, and intensive leadership educational programs. KvN encourages and assists the organization of bereavement committees and Chevrah Kadisha groups in synagogues and communities so that they can perform Jewish funeral, burial, and mourning mitzvot; protect and shield bereaved families from exploitation; and provide information, education and technical assistance. KvN’s educational activities support established and new Chevrot Kadisha and their members, collaborating with other organizations whose interests they share.
KvN’s website (jewish-funerals.org) has hundreds of pages of information on Jewish end-of-life rituals, Jewish funerals, burial and mourning practices. Contact KvN (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like assistance in organizing a Chevrah Kadisha in your community, or if you have questions regarding any aspect of Jewish death-related practices.
The Gamliel Institute is a world-class academic institution dedicated to educate and train leaders in the creation of a holistic end-of-life care continuum for their local communities. The goal is to deepen future leaders' Jewish knowledge and to help them experience the emotional, transformative, and spiritual aspects of Chevrah Kadisha work. The five, twelve week, on-line core Gamliel courses present a groundbreaking opportunity for study and learning. The Gamliel Institute Course Catalog lists the extensive full-semester core curriculum courses along with the Taste of Gamliel short-courses offered each month.
Kavod v'Nichum sponsors an annual international conference whose focus is on Chevrah Kadisha, Jewish cemeteries, and all aspects of Jewish death practices. These conferences have touched thousands of people. For information about this year's conference see the KvN website (jewish-funerals.org).