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

Life Happens – A free educational series on healthy living, caring for our loved ones and planning for the future

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, email Gail Wolven at gwolven@lifebridgehealth.org or call 866-404 DOCS (3627).

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).

The Empty Place at the Table: Coping with Loss During the Holidays

March 25, 2015

Wednesday
7:00pm
Temple Isaiah
12220 Scaggsville Road, Fulton, MD

Presented by Sol Levinson & Brothers and Jewish Community Services:

Family gatherings can be painful for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. Join us for help in finding support and comfort during the holidays.

Facilitated by Rabbi Craig H. Axler and Donna Kane, M.A., JCS Clinician. Pre-registration preferred via web or by calling 410-466-9200

 

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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.

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.

 

The Empty Place at the Table: Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Family gatherings can be painful for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. Empty Seat at the TableSol Levinson & Bros and Jewish Community Services invite you to join us for help in finding support and comfort during the holidays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 7:00pm
Oakland Mills Interfaith Center
5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, Maryland

Facilitated by Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman and Donna Kane, M.A., JCS Clinician

Pre-registration is preferred. Please visit jcsbaltimore.org/griefsupport or call 410-466-9200.

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.

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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.

How Can Hospice Help?

The guiding principle of hospice is to ensure that a person’s death is as dignified and comfortable as possible, to maintain a patient’s quality of life and avoid unnecessary suffering. The role of hospice is to provide medical care and emotional support for the terminally ill. Hospice caregivers also provide valuable support to patients’ families. Some hospice organizations also provide palliative care for non-hospice patients. Palliative care is relieving symptoms or suffering, without attempting to cure an illness or disease.

Hospice organizations provide medical care via doctors and nurses who help advise and administer medications to ease suffering. They also help patients’ families make arrangements to acquire necessary medical equipment. Social workers are also available to help families and patients with the emotional process. Hospice providers also offer grief counseling, and some offer spiritual guidance. As with Levinson’s Aftercare Resources, hospice organizations are known for their continued support of families after the patient’s death. Some hospice organizations in the Baltimore-area are religious, some are not. Some are for-profit, some are not. All are committed to easing the process of death and dying for the terminally ill and their families.

Hospice services are available in one’s own home, in some hospitals, as well as at dedicated hospice facilities. It is important to know that hospice organizations will evaluate patients several times over the course of someone’s illness to determine their eligibility for hospice care and help advise the family, even before they are actually providing hospice services.

Within the Jewish community, there are some important resources, such as Jewish Community Services’ resources for Aging and Caregiving. Their assistance with Elder Care Management begins with helping families make decisions as their loved ones age, and they can also provide information about important end-of-life resources such as hospice care.

Other resources can be found through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, as well as local hospice care providers such as Gilchrist Hospice, Seasons Hospice, and Stella Maris.