Life Happens Series in Columbia

Life Happens

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE?
It can be hard to discuss what happens when you or a family member needs skilled nursing care or passes away. But taking time to explore and make decisions about these issues now will make it easier on your loved ones. Facing these difficult issues can provide everyone with peace of mind for years to come.

LifeBridge Health, Jewish Community Services, the Jewish Federation of Howard County and Sol Levinson & Bros. want to make the hard conversations about aging and planning for the future easier for you. Join us in Columbia this September for Life Happens, a free series of talks from experts who help navigate others through these topics.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events. Attendance is free and open to the community. To register for any or all of these Life Happens sessions, go to www.lifebridgehealth.org/communityevents, or call 410-601-WELL (9355).

  • The Greatest Gift: Discussing and Planning for Future Financial, Medical and End-of Life Matters with Loved Ones. Get the much sought-after “Binder.” On Tues., Sept. 6, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Beth Shalom, 8070 Harriet Tubman Lane, Columbia, MD 21044
  • Jewish Perspecitves on Aging and End of Life. On Tues., Sept. 13, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Vantage House, 5400 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044
  • Healthy Living for a Healthy Future. On Tues., Sept. 20, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Jewish Federation of Howard County, 10630 Little Patuxent Parkway, Ste. 400, Columbia, MD 21044
  • The Jewish Funeral: Traditions and Options. On Tues., Sept. 27, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Sol Levinson & Bros. Funeral Services P.A., 5560 Sterrett Place, Ste. 204, Columbia, MD 21044

Jewish Mourning Rituals

Over the last several weeks, we have posted this series of videos regarding Jewish mourning rituals to our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, take a look! They are very informative and original. If you have questions regarding Jewish funerals or mourning practices, please contact us, we are always here to help!

 

Honoring a Memory by Planting Trees

In the Jewish faith, there are many ways to celebrate, honor and commemorate the life of a loved one and perpetuate their legacy for future generations. Planting a tree in their memory is a time-honored tradition that is symbolic and heartfelt, and a very common and appropriate way to show your support. Tree planting ceremonies may help a mourner fill a void felt after the funeral and shiva period have ended. Alternatively, it is very common to make a donation to a tree-planting organization such as Jewish National Fund, in someone’s memory.

Traditionally, a fruit tree is planted because it symbolizes continual nourishment by the fruit it bears. A story is told of a man named Honi, who encountered another man planting a carob tree. “How long will it take to bear fruit?” he inquired. “About 70 years,” the man replied. “So you think you will live long enough to taste its fruits?” The man explained, “I have found ready-grown carob trees in the world. As my forefathers planted them for me, so I plant for my children.”

This is a great way to teach younger generations about the circle of life and the beliefs we hold regarding life and death in the Jewish faith. The life cycle is not only about raising families and participating in your community, but teaching the reasons why we take care of one another, and providing for future generations as was done for us.

Many families are thankful for the visual reminder of how their loved one made a positive mark on the community, and it is uplifting to see a beautiful tree adorn the community in a loved one’s name. It also gives a place to visit, when perhaps the memories associated with visiting the cemetery may be too painful.

The options available to those interested in planting a memorial tree are many. While it is common to plant a tree in the yard of the mourning family, there are many places, such as a park, synagogue or school where family members and friends could remember and reflect on this symbol of a life well lived. The family’s rabbi may even conduct a small service.

 

FAQ – Who Gets Funeral or Shiva Thank-you Notes?

One question we are often asked is who should formally be thanked after a funeral. It is important to note that the answer to this, as with most other things in Jewish tradition, often varies.

It is most common to write thank-you notes for donations or contributions that were made in a person’s memory, or to people who may have sent food to the family. It is also common to thank anyone who was exceptionally helpful in organizing shiva, etc. It is not expected that you should write a note to thank every person who attended the funeral.

However, in the more observant community it is NOT expected that thank-you notes be written, as that community views helping with shiva or making contributions in someone’s memory something that is a mitzvah – a commandment, not just a good deed – and, therefore, does not require thanks. Another part of the reasoning is they feel that grieving families should do just that – focus on their grief and not have to spend their time obligated to the duty of writing thank-you notes.

Life Happens – first educational series

LifeHappensLogoWe have just completed a very successful first-time educational series, in partnership with LifeBridge Health, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, and Jewish Community Services. Thank you to all the speakers and participants.

Over the course of six weeks, we covered the following topics:

  • The Greatest Gift: Discussing and Planning for Future Financial, Medical and End-of-Life Matters with Loved Ones
  • Estates and Eldercare: Planning and Resources
  • Health Expectations and Challenges Facing Baby Boomers
  • Navigating the System: Aging in Place, Independent and Assisted Living, Households and Nursing Homes
  • Palliative and Hospice Care: Difficult Conversations, Valuable Resources
  • The Jewish Funeral: Traditions, Options and Funeral Home Tour

Each presentation was very well attended and we received a lot of excellent feedback. As we review the series and plan for future events, is there a topic you would like us to consider? Please comment here, send an email to feedback@sollevinson.com, or call Matt Levinson or Eliza Feller at 410-653-8900

Seventeenth Annual Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture Series on Death, Dying and Bereavement

Wednesday

May 20, 2015

6:00 PM – 9:15 PM

Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc.
8900 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD 21208

Featured Speakers:

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb – “Trauma and Loss as Opportunities for Psychological Growth”

William C. (Bill) Dietrich – “Companioning the Dying: Opening Fully to Living”

Limited Seating.  Doors open at 5:15pm on a first come, first served basis.  No registration required and no reservations can be taken.

Funeral directors, psychologists and social workers attending the program may earn 3 CEUs (category A or 1).

Funeral Personalization

HoldingHandsFuneral personalization can mean a lot of different things, but the primary goal of personalization is that the funeral more fully reflect the life of the person being honored. Whether you are looking for traditional or non-traditional funeral arrangements, there are many ways to honor special wishes. Read here for a list of several ways in which a funeral or shiva home can incorporate options such as music, photographs, etcetera.

 Levinson’s is here to answer your questions about these and other options, and to make everything run smoothly. Make sure your funeral director knows in advance if you would like to include any of these elements, so we can be completely prepared upon your arrival for the service. If you have special requests for your own funeral, you may sit down with us to plan ahead and ensure we have the information in our records. It is also very important to ensure your family is aware of and comfortable with your wishes.

 Also, not all of these things are strictly in keeping with traditional Jewish funerals. Be sure your clergy is aware of any personalized aspects of your funeral so they may tailor their remarks appropriately to honor your loved one in the way you wish them to be remembered.

One thing many of our families find meaningful is to place photographs, notes and drawings (especially by younger family members) into the casket. Funerals sometimes feature special readings, or favorite music playing while other family and friends arrive prior to the service. Levinson’s also provides the option of a video recording of the service via discrete and unobtrusive cameras in the ceilings of the chapels. Family and friends who are out of town or otherwise physically unable to attend may then feel they are a part of the service even if they cannot attend. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let us know. If you have your own suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Levinson’s is One of The Baltimore Sun Top Workplaces 2014!

We are proud to announce that Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. has been recognized among the 100 companies/organizations selected as a 2014 Top Workplace by The Baltimore Sun.

TWP_Baltimore_2014_AW

This recognition was based on surveys that our own employees completed, which makes us doubly proud. Levinson’s is honored to be included on this list, and especially grateful that our employees know they are an important and respected part of our family business.

Click the image above to see the full listing of workplaces that were recognized, or click here to read Levinson’s individual listing.

Yizkor – Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

yizkorThe Yizkor service is a special service recited four times a year in synagogues, to honor the memory of the departed. It is recited on Yom Kippur, on Shemini Atzeret (at the end of Sukkot), the final day of Passover, and the second day of Shavuot (or the first day for those who only observe one day). The Yizkor service is not only an opportunity to remember loved ones, it is also an opportunity to recommit oneself to doing mitzvahs – acts of charity – in a loved one’s memory. By doing a good deed in someone’s memory, it carries on their legacy in this world.

Some synagogues have the tradition of everyone reciting Yizkor, with those who have not lost an immediate mourner reciting Yizkor for victims of the Holocaust or for other martyrs. In other synagogues, it is customary for only those who have lost an immediate family member to recite Yizkor.

A yahrzeit candle is traditionally lit the evening before the service. Please see our website for a full calendar of Yizkor dates (based on 8-day observance).

 

Any information about ritual practice is intended as a general overview for the broader Jewish community and there are many differences of opinion within this community. Concerns about specific ritual practices should be directed to your rabbi. Opinions expressed in blog posts and in external links may not represent the opinions of the staff or ownership of Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc.

 

New Howard County Office

Families living in Howard County will be now able to meet with Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral directors in the center of Columbia, at 5560 Sterrett Place, Suite 204, Columbia, MD 21044. Levinson’s has a decades-long relationship with the Jewish community in Columbia and surrounding areas, and “this office will address the lack of a physical presence of Jewish funeral homes in the Howard County area, which has a very high percentage of Jewish households,” said Matt Levinson, General Manager of Sol Levinson & Bros.

 The office is a warm, intimate space where families can sit with a Funeral Director to plan ahead or make funeral arrangements. As before, Sol Levinson & Bros. will provide funeral services for Howard County families in multiple locations. Funerals may be held at interfaith centers, meeting houses and synagogues in Howard County, as graveside services at cemeteries throughout the region, or in the chapels at our Pikesville funeral home (20 minutes from Columbia).

 An additional benefit of this new office location is that Levinson’s can provide more easily-accessible aftercare resources to the Howard County Jewish community:

  • The reception area holds a bereavement library with books encompassing a wide range of topics such as grief, Jewish burial customs, and how to explain the mourning process to children.
  • Bereavement Support Groups will also meet in this location. Sol Levinson & Bros. will continue the annual Howard County Lecture Series presenting national and local experts in the field of death, dying and bereavement.
  • Additional outreach programs will be held in the new office, on topics such as The Jewish Funeral, Planning Ahead, Estate Planning, Eldercare Resources, and more.

As Michelle Ostroff, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, points out, “the Jewish community is looking forward to Sol Levinson’s presence in Howard County. Having the Levinson family recognize the need for an office in Columbia further underscores our growing community and its needs.”

For over one hundred twenty years, and through five generations, the Levinson family has served the Baltimore and Howard County communities with compassion and respect. Large corporations are acquiring thousands of funeral homes across the country, and the family-owned difference sets us apart. As Matt Levinson noted, “we are one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the Baltimore area and are proud to have three generations currently active in the business on a day-to-day basis, but we are always looking for ways to improve on our services, to make this difficult life-cycle event easier for families.” Levinson’s mission is to help craft a service to honor the memory of a loved one, and we feel that our longevity is a testament to that commitment. 

Go to the Howard County section of our website for more resources and details about services offered. Contact us via HowardCounty@sollevinson.com or 410-730-7230.