To Midwife A Soul: Guidelines for Performing Taharah

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A Practical Taharah Manual with Chants by Rabbi Shefa Gold

This manual is a guide for those who perform the holy ritual of taharah, preparation of Jewish deceased for burial.  Originally written for the Chevrah Kadisha of Northern New Mexico, a chevrah that includes six shuls that differ extensively in their levels of observance, this manual is intended for use by any community. It is for all Jews.  


This expanded 5th Edition is specially formatted for ease of use in the taharah room as well as for education and teaching.  Music has long been known to enhance the beauty and kavanah of the ritual.  This edition is unique in that it includes the musical chanting notations of the Hebrew chant scholar, Rabbi Shefa Gold.  This book is an essential resource to those who help midwife souls from this world to the next.


This respected manual is used throughout England, Canada, and the United States, and is now available in both Perfect Bound and Spiral Bound editions.  The spiral binding makes the book easier to use in the taharah room.

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Final Kindness: Honoring K'rovei Yisrael

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Taharah-like Ritual for Non-Jews Who Are Part of the Jewish Community

In today's modern Jewish society we are faced with an increasing number of interfaith families in which one spouse is Jewish and the other is not. When the Jewish spouse requests that their non-Jewish loved-one be buried as a Jew, a dilemma arises. How does one prepare a non-Jew for burial using Jewish traditions? Many chevrot and synagogues simply deny the request, stating that Jewish practices are for Jews only. Yet with so many families now expressing interest in this, it is time to create such a ritual. This book is the first of its kind in the field of Jewish death rituals, and extends the scope of the current Jewish umbrella under which our dead are respectfully prepared for burial. Every Chevrah Kadisha needs to be ready to handle the changing times of today's world, and thus, every community in which there are mixed-religion marriages needs this manual.  

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Exploring the Soul of Taharah

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Comparing Traditional Taharah with Home Taharah

For centuries, Jews have prepared their dead for burial using a ritual known as taharah, which means purification. Drawn from sacred texts and Jewish theology, this rite is traditionally conducted according to time-tested procedures, by a trained team called a Chevrah Kadisha.


Today, however, families are asking their rabbis and hospice chaplains to improvise new rituals based upon this ancient one. They may want to perform the ritual themselves, for example; to insert original elements; or to confront Jewish law and perform it for a loved one who will be cremated, or who is not Jewish.


Discussion of these issues has led to the question: How much modification can be allowed? At what point is the ritual no longer a Jewish purification, and by what standard? What bare-bones elements make taharah unique, and satisfy its requirements? What can be allowed, and what is forbidden?


This is the inquiry that the authors, a hospice chaplain and an experienced Chevrah Kadisha leader, explore and discuss in an open-minded exchange.

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