Bikkur CholimChevra KadishaMount SinaiShiva CommitteeGuide to Jewish MourningMemorial ServicesMemorial Plaque
Reaching out to those who are ill — as well as reaching out to those who are home-bound or lonely — is fulfilling this commandment.
Under the auspices and impetus of Rabbi Nicole Guzik’s “Caring Community”, this year the Bikkur Cholim Committee has been very actively involved in doing this important work. Our emphasis on note writing has been extremely successful as well as our visits, phone calls, and food delivery to the sick.
There are many laws and customs regarding visiting the sick. Some of the best practices derived from Jewish law and modern psychology are:
- Do not visit early in the morning or late at night.
- Call before you want to visit to make sure it is a convenient time to come over.
- Do not ask, “How are you?” They are sick, that is why you are visiting. It is better to ask, “How are you feeling, today?” or “How have you been managing?”
- Do not stand over the person if they are laying down or sitting. Sit down next to them.
- Touch can be very soothing and comforting. Ask if they feel comfortable with you holding their hand.
- Make sure that your hands are clean so that you do not make them sicker.
- Pray with person in their presence and pray for them at other times as well. There are prayers for healing from the Bible and that the Rabbis have written, but you do not need to know these prayers to pray. Praying with or for someone can be done in any language. A prayer can be as simple as, “God please heal . . .” or “God please take away the pain from . . .” If you feel compelled to pray in Hebrew you can always recite the Shema together.
We are commanded to visit both Jewish and non-Jewish people who are sick. Please let us know if we may be of assistance to anyone who is ill, homebound or simply lonely. Contact Fran Stengel, Chairperson, Sinai Temple Bikkur Cholim Committee at (310) 472-7327
Loving Care and Dignity for the Body – Peace for the Soul
“If you want to experience the ultimate mitzvah of our tradition, come and participate in performing a Taharah.”
– Cantor Emeritus Joseph Gole
The Sinai Temple Chevra Kadisha is a volunteer group of dedicated congregants and clergy, who prepare the deceased for burial in a ritual called taharah (purification). The body is ritually cleansed and dressed in traditional tachrichim (shrouds). Prayers are recited on behalf of the deceased, asking for forgiveness and for the soul’s eternal peace. The intent of the Chevra Kadisha is to help usher the soul of the departed from the world to the next with loving kindness, dignity and k’vod hamet (respect for the deceased). Families take great comfort in knowing that their loved one’s body is treated in a caring, traditional, Jewish and centuries-old manner. This ritual is now increasingly observed in the modern Jewish community. Tahara is performed with respect and confidentiality for members of Sinai Temple.
For more information, please contact Lisa Lainer at (310) 936-8867 or Sinai Temple at (310) 474-1518.
Since 1965, Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries has been wholly owned by Sinai Temple to serve the entire Jewish community of Southern California. Care, compassion and tradition are the hallmarks of all the services offered and all mortuary services are performed in accordance with Jewish tradition, as well as respect for individual family choices.
Our two cemeteries, located in Simi Valley and the Hollywood Hills, offer a variety of burial choices; and through our Advance Planning department, many families chose to purchase cemetery property in advance as protection for their families.
When a death occurs, all you need to do is call 800-600-0076 for immediate assistance. We have staff members on-site to answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can assist you with mortuary, funeral and cemetery arrangements at either our Hollywood Hills or Simi Valley Parks. www.mountsinaip
“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
The loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult, challenging and painful experiences. It is a time when being part of a community can bring much needed solace and comfort. Sinai Temple’s Shiva Committee assists members with all details of shiva so that the family experiencing a loss need not be bothered with the essential details of preparing for the healing period of mourning. The Committee is there to answer questions, prepare the house for shiva, including covering mirrors and delivering prayer books and shiva chairs. The Sinai Temple clergy takes the utmost care to assist members in mourning by leading shiva minyanim and guiding members through this difficult time. Our committee is made up of members that in turn, help the Sinai community in the time of need. From time to time, the Committee will hold lectures and workshops on relevant topics for the congregation at large. Sign up to become a Shiva Committee member and help us fulfill this very important mitzvah.
Guide to Jewish Funeral Practices: Guiding Principles
Jewish belief, rituals and traditions that surround death and burial are governed by the core belief in the sanctity of the body. The respect that the deceased individual deserved in life is carried forward in the traditional Jewish funeral, with its rituals of washing, dressing, caring and guardianship. These rituals, and the funeral itself, are sacred rites invested with dignity and simplicity and with the greatest consideration and respect for the deed.
The preparation and burial of the body are highly valued mitzvoth, ritual commandments. They are considered to be acts of kindness performed without expectation of reward. The Sinai Temple Chevra Kadisha is a volunteer group of dedicated congregants and clergy. With the support of our clergy and in cooperation with Mount Sinai or the mortuary of your choice, the Chevra prepares the deceased for burial.
For Rabbinic assistance, more information or to notify the Sinai Temple Chevra Kadisha, please contact the temple at (310) 474-1518.
For more information regarding Chevra Kadisha, please click here to view the Sinai Temple Guide to Jewish Funeral Practices.
When Death Occurs: Immediate Steps
For those who have just suffered a loss, here’s a quick outline of immediate steps to take, with links to relevant portions of the full Guide to Jewish Mourning and Condolence:
- Call a Jewish Funeral Director to arrange for pick-up of the body and to learn the available times for the funeral (Cemetery property must be purchased if not already arranged pre-need). Our suggested place of rest is Mount Sinai Parks and Mortuaries, which is part of the Sinai Temple family. Inform Mount Sinai (or the place of your choosing) if you are interested in Chevra Kadisha performed by the Sinai Temple Chevra Kadisha. For more information about the Sinai Temple Chevra Kadisha, please call 310-474-1518.
- Call the Sinai Temple office (310-474-1518) to inform the clergy and staff of the passing, and to learn the availability of the Rabbis to conduct the funeral. You should ask for the Rabbis’ assistants: Rebecca Begin or Ellen Pierson. If your call is after hours, one should call the Sinai Temple switchboard at: 310-301-2923. A Rabbi will return your phone call.
- Based upon these initial calls, arrange a time for the funeral.
- Have your Havurah, friends, or family or hospice volunteer make calls to family and friends with the funeral information.
- If not already arranged pre-need, purchase the coffin.
- Have your Havurah, close friends, family or hospice volunteer arrange for the Shivah Meals.
Our synagogue finds power and strength in expressing reverence for God when someone reaches the end of life. The Talmud explains that Shekhinah (God’s presence) stands at the head of a dying person. We are fortunate to be God’s partners in treating the deceased with respect and honor, and to participate in the holy work of comforting the mourner. While the conversations surrounding death and dying are often difficult and confusing, it is our hope that as a community, we will mark the end of someone’s life with as much blessing and sanctity as we do for one entering this world.
The Sinai Temple Guide to Jewish Mourning and Condolence helps us navigate through these conversations. It is our hope that through the guide, you will have the opportunity to learn more about your own relationship with God, this part of the cycle of life, and how Sinai Temple can be a supportive and integral piece of your religious community.
It says in Isaiah, “God gives strength to the weary, fresh vigor to the spent.” With this guide and our community, Sinai Temple strives to be one of your strengths. Through our learning and exploration of the end of life, may we grow with God and sustain one another.
MOUNT SINAI MEMORIAL PARKS AND MORTUARIES
RABBI DAVID WOLPE
Some members of our community mark the end of the 7-day shiva period with a memorial service. This is an opportunity for family and friends to gather together, after the first phase of mourning, to bring support and love to the family. The evening service is usually held in the Ziegler Sanctuary but can also be held in the Kohn Chapel. Family members and friends are invited to speak about the deceased and to share fond memories together.
For Memorial Service planning assistance please contact:
Yahrzeit Memorial Plaques
Honor the sacred memory of your loved one with a perpetual engraved yahrzeit plaque.
To honor the memory of those who are no longer with us, Sinai Temple provides our members the opportunity to remember their loved ones throughout the year by purchasing a plaque on our permanent Memorial Wall in Ziegler Sanctuary. The yahrzeit plaque will bear your loved one’s name on our beautiful memorial wall and will be lit during the week of the yahrzeit date and at all Yizkor services on Pesach, Shavuot, Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret.
Your loved one’s name will also be announced from the bimah the Shabbat preceding his or her yahrzeit and will appear each year in the Sinai Temple Book of Remembrance distributed on Yom Kippur. Yahrzeit notifications will also be sent to you and your designated family members each year.
Plaques are also available for pre-purchase to use at a future date, and will be yours in perpetuity to honor your loved one’s memory.
For additional information on the yahrzeit memorial wall or to purchase a plaque, please contact Judy Begin, Temple Administrator, at (310) 481-3222 or JBegin@sinaitemple.org.