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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

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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.

Jewish Genealogy

Genealogical research is pretty popular these days. How far back have you traced your family tree? There are a few resources you may not have heard of within the Baltimore/Maryland Jewish community to help you along the way:

The Jewish Museum of Maryland offers the most comprehensive on-line listing of individuals buried in Baltimore’s Jewish cemeteries. The list can be viewed and searched on the museum’s website.

• The Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland has lists of local and national links and resources, and also hosts a variety of programs.

Are there any other resources you have found helpful?

Caring for Yourself When Grieving

HoldingHandsGrief can be an all-encompassing emotion, and Jewish funerals often take place within a relatively short time after a death occurs, meaning the first few days after a loss can go by in a blur. Add to that the possible additional stresses of travel, family interactions, and sometimes a significant amount of time recently spent supporting someone with a lingering illness, and it is no wonder that mourners sometimes suffer serious illness themselves.

Jewish law requires us to take care of ourselves, even at difficult times, and we have put together some reminders that we hope will keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe. If you are helping a friend or extended family during the time of a funeral, please make sure they do the following:

  • Drink water. Dehydration from crying, or simply not drinking on a normal schedule, can lead to a host of physical ailments even for people who are otherwise healthy. For people with blood pressure, heart or other health problems it can be dangerous.
  • Remember to eat. If you feel you have little appetite, have small meals or healthy snacks. And don’t over-do it with the caffeine. Grieving, planning and attending a funeral, and sitting shiva can be surprisingly physically taxing. From avoiding headaches to ensuring blood sugar stays level, keeping your body fueled is imperative to staying well.
  • Try to rest. Emotions can make it hard to sleep and sometimes, after a death, adrenaline kicks in. But the chemicals your body releases when sleep-deprived take a toll. Find ways to pause for a few moments of quiet or down-time. Delegate shiva set-up to someone else. Feel free to define times when you are receiving people, and times which are set aside for quiet family time to eat meals, or take naps. If you have people in your home for shiva and it starts to get overwhelming, you are completely within your rights to excuse yourself for a little while. Nobody will judge you. You are not hosting, you are sitting shiva.

Remember mourning is a process which takes a different amount of time for each person. As you grieve, please keep in mind we have several resources at Levinson’s to help you along the way. From books to lectures to bereavement groups, our Aftercare resources are always available to you.