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.

2014 Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture

Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. and Jewish Community Services
welcome the entire community to:

The 16th Annual Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, May 21, from 6-9:15pm. We are pleased to announce the following presenters and topics:

Glenn J. Treisman M.D., Ph.D. – “Depression and Demoralization in Patients with Chronic Illness”
Doreen Horan, LCPC, FAMI – “Creative Grief Counseling for Children and Adults: The Wisdom of Integrating Therapy, Intuition, and Life Skills to Live Freely, Fully, Joyfully”

Dr. Treisman is the Director of the AIDS Psychiatry Service, Co-Director of the Chronic Pain Treatment Program, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Ms. Horan is the Manager of the Counseling Center at Stella Maris, Inc., a hospice provider in Timonium, MD.

2014Postcard

The lecture will be held here at Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, MD. Limited seating. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. No prior registration or reservations. 3 Category A or I CEUs available for psychologists and social workers. The lecture is provided in conjunction with Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Why Should I Plan Ahead?

Maybe you have a relative who is ill or going to need some long-term care and you have to spend down their assets, or your parents are older and you don’t want to have to worry about the impact of funeral costs while you are grieving, or you don’t want your family to have to worry about making decisions and handling the financial burden of your own funeral service.

There are several important reasons to take an hour of your time to make funeral arrangements in advance:

  • Ensure your peace of mind that your wishes will be followed.

  • Relieve the burden on your family, so they don’t have to worry about making significant emotional and financial decisions while they are grieving.

  • Control financial costs – when you pre-fund a funeral service, we guarantee those charges at today’s costs. (We always recommend speaking with a financial consultant or other professional regarding your personal financial situation.)

  • Reduce assets prior to applying for Medicaid.

Check out the Plan Ahead section of our website for an informative video, FAQs, and an online form to begin planning. Contact us to speak with a funeral director about any additional questions or to set up an appointment.

 

Introducing Our eNewsletter

Click to sign up

Our first eNewsletter is out – did you receive it? We expect to send it out a few times a year to inform you of upcoming events, helpful information about mourning and bereavement or changes in funeral practices, as well as information about Levinson’s. We hope this provides valuable resources to our community beyond our funeral services. If you would like to be on the email list to get the newsletter in the future, just click here.

Check out our blog post titled “Let’s Talk About Death?” for the lead newsletter article on the fascinating and important discussions taking place across the United States about death and dying.

 

2013 Bereavement Lecture in Howard County

On Sunday, October 20, 2013, Levinson’s hosted our annual bereavement lecture in Howard County. With about 100 people in attendance from the Columbia, Rockville, Bethesda and Washington, DC areas, this lecture allows us to provide outreach and aftercare services to the families we serve in those neighborhoods. The lecture is also a way of providing ongoing training to the social workers and caregivers who live in these communities.

Presenter J. Shep Jeffreys spoke about “Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough”. J. Shep Jeffreys, Ed.D., F.T. is a licensed psychologist with a specialty in the treatment of grief related problems. He is a Fellow in Thanatology (ADEC). In addition to his practice at the Family Center in Columbia, he is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he presents seminars on loss and grief to psychiatric residents. He is Affiliate Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland, teaching Loss and Bereavement.

Dr. Jeffreys is author of Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough: A Handbook for Care Providers, 2nd Edition, and of Coping with Workplace Grief: Dealing with Loss, Trauma and Change, Revised Edition. His column “Grief Psychologist’s Corner” has been a regular feature in Living With Loss magazine. A speaker and storyteller, he consults with and provides training programs for religious, medical, and educational institutions as well as business organizations. For twelve years he worked with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., as a trainer and grief/loss workshop leader in the United States and abroad, and he has served as consulting psychologist for The Johns Hopkins AIDS Service. Dr. Jeffreys is a member of and consultant to Bereaved Parents USA, Howard County (MD) Chapter.

Feedback after the lecture was that Dr. Jeffreys was very informative, a great speaker and people really got a lot out of the morning. All in all, it was an experience that was very helpful to the attendees.

If you are interested in the lectures either at the Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home (usually every Spring), please check in with us in February. If you would like to know more about upcoming Howard County lectures, please check in with us next summer.

You can always contact us with any questions.

 

This event was co-sponsored by Jewish Community Services (An agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore) and The Jewish Federation of Howard County.

Levinson’s Mobile Site – Up and Running

As promised, we now have a mobile version of our site and if you are checking us out from your phone, that is where you will be directed. Our hope was to create a platform that is much easier to use from a mobile device. With an emphasis on upcoming service information, we hope you will find it much easier to find the information you need at a glance.

On an individual’s page it is now easier to view and scroll through the obituary and memorial book information, and you can click to enlarge a person’s photograph. We have also made it easier to share the service details with others directly from your phone.

The mobile site also has information about how to contact us, cemeteries, planning ahead, and this blog. The archive of the past 6 months’ funerals is easy to find and simplified for the purposes of mobile devices. Several of our videos are on the new mobile site and the “Contact Us” page even allows you to use the virtual tour from your phone!

You can still access our full site and its many valuable resources via the menu at the top right.

Artwork at Levinson’s

No matter where you go in Levinson’s Funeral Home, you will find artwork. If you have been here, you probably noticed the stained glass, prints, paintings, the beautiful stone of the chapel walls and more. Most – though not all – of the artwork has a Jewish theme. Many images of Jerusalem can be found throughout the funeral home, as well as the tree of life, the twelve tribes, and many other events in Jewish history.

Why do we have so much artwork? First of all, the simple reason is that it beautifies the space, and makes it seem less formal and more like a home. Also, much of the work is by Jewish and Israeli artists, which we feel is an important community to support. But the most important reason is the first: the artwork serves to create a comforting environment in many places – in the offices where we make arrangements with grieving families, in the family rooms where you come to offer condolences prior to the service, and elsewhere in the building as decoration and inspiration.

The next time you are here, we encourage you to take a closer look at the works on the walls and appreciate their symbolism and beauty.

How long do we sit shiva? Is one day okay? Three?

We’re going to start this answer out by saying we strongly recommend you talk to a rabbi about this issue.

Shiva technically means “seven” and by definition lasts for seven Jewish calendar days starting immediately after the interment (burial). There are many important reasons for this first period of official mourning, but due to various considerations such as family needing to return to their homes in other cities or changes in religious observance, many families sit shiva for fewer than seven days. The length of this observance is now often determined by each family based on their needs.

You can find more extensive details about this and other Jewish funeral practices on our Jewish Resources page. We also have a helpful page on how to set up a shiva house.

Should Children Attend Funerals?

A frequent question is whether it is appropriate for young children to attend the funeral. Our answer is generally that this is something best determined by the parent, and really depends upon an individual child’s personality. This approach has changed significantly from a few decades ago – the tradition of excluding children from funerals or mourning rituals is no longer understood as best for children. The common approach these days is if a child is old enough to have some understanding of the concept of death, it is important and far less traumatic for them to attend (unless they really do not want to).

At Sol Levinson & Bros. we try to make sure there are options for families who want to include children in the funeral service. First, you can take your children on a virtual tour of our building, showing them the chapel and family room ahead of time so their surroundings are less intimidating when they arrive for the service.

For families with very young children, our Family Rooms have overhead speakers so if a parent or caregiver needs to step out with a child in the middle of a service they are able to continue to listen. In our bereavement library we have workbooks for children to express their emotions through drawing or other activities, as they often do not have the words to express the complex emotions they are feeling and they have not yet developed the coping mechanisms necessary to focus on the appropriate memories of a loved one. Some families choose to place photographs, drawings, letters or cards into the casket and this is an opportunity to allow children to participate.

We also have resources in the library for how to talk about death with children. The words we as adults sometimes want to use to soften the blow are not always the best ones. There is a story used as a lesson to be careful of what to say when speaking to children. As the story goes, a child was told that his grandfather’s body was at the funeral home. As grownups, we understand what this means, however the child became distraught and nobody could figure out why. They finally realized that he thought this meant his grandfather no longer had a head and it was just the rest of his body that was going to be buried. Children have no choice but to be very literal if our words are the only input they have to inform them about a new experience. Here is an article that shares some useful information on how to speak to children about death.

For a little more reading, here is a New York Times article on the changing approach to letting children share in grief.

 

 

Yizkor Reminder – Shavuot

yizkorThe Yizkor memorial prayer is recited four times a year at synagogue services, including on Shavuot. Practices for length of holiday observance vary between denominations, so please check with your rabbi or synagogue to confirm this information. For those who observe two days of Shavuot, the Yizkor service is held on Thursday, May 16th. For those who observe one day of Shavuot, the service will be on Wednesday, May 15. A yahrzeit candle is traditionally lit the evening before.

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.