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Filling the Void

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Well, friends, gone are the days of community. The days when, God-forbid, should you find yourself thrust into a state of mourning, the community would come together and provide. Food, extra chairs, transportation for out-of-town relations from the airport, etc.

Or, perhaps, it isn’t that the community no longer exists, but that most folks have elected not to be a part of it.

הלל אומר, אל תפרוש מן הצבור
Hillel taught: Do not separate yourself from the community
(Avot 2:4)

Fortunately, community can be outsourced, as reported by a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. In need and don’t know where to turn? Enter the Shiva Sisters.

Their services include, but, I imagine, are not limited to:

• Consultation with Family
• Site Visit
• Planning Funeral Arrangements
• Clergy
• Venues for Memorials
• Venues for Gathering/Reception
• Professional Writing of Obituary
• Guest Book
• Funeral Service Program
• Preparation of Photo Reproductions
• Videographers
• Photographers
• Montage for Services or Home
• Courier Services
• Email Distribution of Directions and
Funeral Arrangements
• Personalized Memorial Website
• Minyan Service Leaders
• Bereavement Counselors
• Bereavement Library Resources
• Food/Caterers/Deli/Kosher available
• Rentals/Tables/China/Chairs
• Paper goods/Utensils
• Flowers
• Valet Parking
• Limos
• Bar Service
• Housekeepers
• Cleaning Crew
• Hotel Accommodations
• Meals for Minyan
• Babysitters
• Pet Sitting/Boarding
• Wardrobe Shopping for Family
• Nails/Hair/Make-up
• Handyman
• Organization of Possessions
• Estate Organization
• Unveiling

I don’t blame the owners of Shiva Sisters. Filling an obvious void, they have created something to fill it. And, based on the article, it seems as though they have spent a great deal of time learning about Jewish burial rites and mourning rituals and take their work very seriously.

What saddens me is how far from Judaism so many of our Jews have come. Deli platters, regarded as old school, are cast aside in lieu of passed hors d’oeuvres and beverages. A funeral service that touches on Jewish themes, but devoid of prayer. A lunch rather than a meal of consolation. A celebration rather than a ritual of mourning.

What will remain of all that is precious once it has been watered down beyond recognition?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 23 March 2011 7:07 am

    Thankfully the mitzvah of shmira is absent from the Shiva Sisters’ list.

    Last May, as my father, my sister and I sat down with the funeral director to make all the necessary arrangements, we were comforted by sweet, familiar voices of friends from our community reading psalms in a room down the hall.

    Sorry, Shiva Sisters, the community has a monopoly on this one.

  2. Wednesday, 23 March 2011 8:52 am

    This made sense to me. They were not living as Jews in life yet were still Jewish. In death the ritual or lack of reflected this.

  3. Wednesday, 23 March 2011 2:06 pm

    I can hire someone to complete that long list of “chores,” but real comfort comes from people who care. I received that care from others in my community after my mother’s death and now try to give it to others whenever I can. It cannot be bought and paid for!

  4. Wednesday, 23 March 2011 6:32 pm

    All I have to say is OY!! And I love what Irene said above. Perfectly stated.

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