What is a Yahrzeit?

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While many people find meaning in marking the anniversary of someone’s death, Judaism is unique in having rituals for this commemoration, from lighting a candle to reciting Mourner’s Kaddish. But are those the only ways to observe a yahrzeit? Where did these rituals begin, and why? Check out the resources and writings we found:

 

 

Whatever type of observance you choose, we hope you will find a ritual which is meaningful to you and serves to make your loved ones’ memories be a blessing.

Retirement Planning: Ask the Expert Luncheon

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Looking for the basics on retirement planning?

Join us for a luncheon to learn more!

Thursday, June 13th
12pm
Linwoods
25 Crossroads Drive
Owings Mills, MD

Presenters:

Brian Rubin, CRPC® and Financial Advisor
Benjamin F. Edwards & Co.

&

Eliza Feller, Director of Advance Planning and Funeral Director
Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc.

 

A vegetarian/fish meal will be served. No fee to attend. Attendance by reservation only, and space is limited.

RSVP by Tuesday, June 4th to Levinson’s via: 410-653-8900 or AskTheExpert@sollevinson.com

 

Sol Levinson & Bros. Advance Planning: Preparation, Education and Peace of Mind

 

You Want Me to Talk About WHAT?

Savings Jars

Planning ahead is something that we are taught to do for most of our lives. We plan for all of life’s major milestones. But planning for a funeral…it is hard to even think about.

If you take a moment to consider all the benefits, you’ll soon understand why several hundred people a year come in to have this important conversation. Have you ever had to plan a funeral? If so, is that something you want your children to have to do for you? Do your children live out of town and have to arrange travel plans as well as handle details of the funeral?

To make this a little easier, we are going to start by answering a few common questions.

  • I don’t want to think about my own funeral, or even that of a loved one. Why can’t we just deal with this later?
  • What are the benefits of advance planning for a funeral?
  • I’m not sick or old. Why should I talk about this depressing subject now?
  • How does pre-payment work?
  • We were told we have to spend down a loved one’s assets for Medicaid. What do I do?
  • What actually happens at an Advance Planning discussion?

 

I don’t want to think about my own funeral, or even that of a loved one. Why can’t we just deal with this later?

Major life events require advanced planning, but it is easy (maybe even enjoyable) to plan for things that we are looking forward to. Of course, that is not the case for a funeral. No one looks forward to thinking about those details, but unfortunately this life cycle event requires planning just the same. Talking about death and funerals is never easy, but having this conversation ahead of time means that your family won’t have to do it while they also grieve.

 

Planning a Wedding

What are the benefits of advance planning for a funeral?

Advance planning comes with many emotional, financial, and practical benefits for your family. When you take care of the details yourself, it allows you to protect your family from the burden of guessing at your wishes or making decisions during a very difficult time. Does your family sometimes disagree on things? Having your wishes put down on paper can help to keep peace between family members and allows them to focus on themselves and the grieving process. Knowing whether you want to be dressed in the traditional white burial shroud or your favorite sweater isn’t what your family should have to be concerned about.

“This is the greatest gift I can give my family.”

In addition, one of the most obvious benefits of pre-paying is keeping your family from incurring the cost of the funeral. Funeral prices on average go up 2-4% a year. As someone recently said to us about pre-paying for their funeral, “It’s just common sense.” We’ve also heard “This is the greatest gift I can give my family.” We see that every day when families who have pre-paid just have to call us and schedule a funeral, and then go back to focusing on their family. For families that haven’t pre-paid, they instead need to come in and have one of the hardest conversations in the world, at one of the worst times in their life.

 

I’m not sick or old. Why should I talk about this depressing subject now?

“It’s just common sense.”

We would argue that this is exactly the time you should be coming in to have this conversation. There’s no hiding the fact that we have seen how unexpected life can be. Having met with families suffering a sudden loss who are left directionless, we cannot overemphasize the importance of having honest conversations (with yourself and your family). We know this is not a fun or enjoyable conversation. However, we are here to help you through this process and make the conversation as easy as possible. Our funeral directors who specialize in Advance Planning are all individuals who sincerely believe they are helping you help your family.

 

How does pre-payment work?

Selecting the kind of funeral that you want also means that you get to control the cost. Taking the emotional aspect out of planning means you can make practical decisions that work for you and your family. And when you pre-fund your funeral through our special guarantee program, it allows you to lock in all of Sol Levinson’s costs indefinitely. The cost of a funeral goes up about 2% a year, so when someone in their 60s pays for those funeral costs now, they can potentially save their family thousands of dollars.

 

We were told we have to spend down a loved one’s assets for Medicaid. What do I do?

Pre-paying funeral expenses is one of the main ways for an individual to spend down in order to apply for Medicaid. When you pre-pay their funeral, those funds are no longer counted as their assets, and the financial burden doesn’t fall to your family when the time comes. We have all the proper paperwork for properly protecting assets according to Medicaid regulations.

 

What actually happens at an Advance Planning discussion?

Couple Planning TripWe will meet with you at the funeral home in Pikesville, in your own home, at our Columbia Arrangement Center, or speak by phone to review important background information (such as statistical information for the death certificate) so your family does not have to search for information at the time of a funeral. Then, we go through all of the funeral options and advise you on any specific cemetery or clergy requirements, or options for alternative services if traditional burial is not in your plans, so you can decide what is best for you. We also talk about any specific requests you may have – a favorite song to be played, burial with your favorite fishing rod, your paintings to be displayed, a particular reading that you absolutely do NOT want read. All of this information is written into an Advanced Planning Guide and we keep a copy on file. This is a no-obligation meeting – no charge to meet with us, and no need to pay us if you aren’t ready to take that step.

 

The Advance Planning Guide holds all of your personalized information so your family can stay organized and have the resources they need in one centralized location. This guide will funeral-related items such as burial plot information, number of death certificates needed, family information for a death notice, etc., and also other important end of life matters. There is a section to keep contact information for attorneys, accountants, financial planners, keep track of usernames and passwords for online bill payments and social media, insurance and bank account information, and more. It also contains many resources for during and after the funeral such as information on our bereavement programs, unveiling information, tips on setting up a shiva house, and a checklist of places your family may need to notify.

 

In Conclusion…

We know that most people aren’t thinking about these things as they go about their daily life. However, as funeral directors, we constantly see the benefit of people planning ahead. It’s obvious everytime a daughter doesn’t have to come into the funeral home and select a casket because her mother has already done that very difficult part for her, or when a nephew doesn’t have to pay for his uncle’s funeral because he didn’t have any other family. We understand how difficult this conversation is, but we do everything in our power to make it as easy for you as we can.

 

Next Steps:

To talk to an Advance Planning specialist about any questions, or to learn more, please email PlanAhead@sollevinson.com or call 410-653-8900. To schedule an appointment, please see our Online Scheduler, call or email us. We are very flexible, so if you do not see a time listed on the online scheduler that works for you, please contact us directly.

Shomers – Guardians of the Soul

 

Have you ever wondered what the word Shomer means?

Or what is the purpose of the Jewish tradition of someone staying with a deceased at all times?

 

Shomer literally means “guardian,” and there are some very important reasons we still honor the tradition of having a shomer in our building.

 

“The body is understood to be the creation of G-d and the dwelling place of the soul. As such, a body must be accorded every respect, in life and in death.”

Our Jewish faith teaches us that our most important responsibility is to care for our loved ones after death. According to jhvonline.com, “the body is understood to be the creation of G-d and the dwelling place of the soul. As such, a body must be accorded every respect, in life and in death. In practice, this means that a dead body should not be left alone.”

 

Caring for the dead is one of the highest mitzvahs you can achieve – or a chesed shel emet – which jewishpress.com defines as a “kindness of truth (i.e. with pure intent), since one cannot be thanked by the recipient of the chesed.” Part of respecting and caring for the dead involves having a shomer, or “watcher” with the deceased, beginning at the time of death up until the time of the funeral.

 

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At Sol Levinson & Bros., we have several people we engage to serve as a shomer so that no deceased is ever left unattended. They stay in a dedicated room adjacent to where the deceased is, where they read psalms (“Tehillim,” in Hebrew). On occasion, a family may decide that they or some friends prefer to sit shomer for their own loved one, and we have accommodations for this as well.

 

 

Social Security Benefits: Ask the Expert Luncheon

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Confused by Social Security benefits? Tim Barnaba -adjunct professor and teacher of “Understanding Medicare & Social Security” at CCBC – will help us understand the options.

Tuesday, April 9th, 12pm
David Chu’s China Bistro
7105 Reisterstown Road

Lunch is free, but registration is required by April 2 to AskTheExpert@sollevinson.com or 410-653-8900. Kosher dietary rules observed.

Tips for Cleaning a Relative’s Home, Downsizing for a Move, or Decluttering to Help Your Family

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Have you ever faced the overwhelming challenge of cleaning out a loved one’s home for a move to a smaller place or a nursing home, or felt rushed to do this after their death?

It can seem insurmountable, especially if you are grieving their death or juggling their healthcare needs, as well as your own family and work life. Several recent articles provide suggestions and resources for these situations, as well as tips for decluttering your own home so that this burden does not fall on your own children.

  • Cleaning out a relatives home: Many people have heard of Marie Kondo, or the KonMari Method, where you go through all of your items and consider whether they “spark joy.” This is a helpful method for going through someone else’s items to make hard decisions. Check out this article for suggestions on how to follow this approach. Some people also choose to contact a home or estate clean-out company to help handle this task.
  • Cleaning out your own home:
    • Marie Kondo also promotes her method to encourage people to clean up their homes before someone else has to do it for them. Tips for going through the process with your own items using this approach can be found in this article.
    • Another approach comes from a book titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” which some people find less daunting than the KonMari Method. It may sound like an odd title, but it is a straight-forward and often funny book by Margareta Magnusson that provides encouragement and tips for people who may be downsizing. It is also beneficial to those who are point in their life where they want to reevaluate their possessions and how they want to ease the burden on their own children. This article talks about her approach, which involves taking your time to gently regard the objects in your home, consider their value to you and your family beyond just their nostalgic value, and make decisions based on that.
  • Paperwork: One other suggestion for cleaning up that Sol Levinson & Bros. can be of assistance with is tackling paperwork. We have experienced firsthand the dread in people’s voices when they realize they have to go through someone’s whole office – or even just a file cabinet – to find important details about wills, birth certificates, insurance policies, and bank accounts. That’s why when you come in to discuss Advance Planning with us we provide you with a personalized resource called the Levinson’s Advance Planning Guide. This guide contains a simple, easy-to-find space to write down all the important information for your family. It’s kind of like a summary of your personal affairs. The added benefit is that we also gather important information ahead of time, and ask you the questions we need to so that your family does not have to also be burdened with those tasks at the time of your death. There is no charge for our time to meet with you and there is no obligation to pre-pay (though that is yet another thing you could do for your family ahead of time to make things easier on them).

Whichever cleaning method you choose, be sure to let family know in case they want a particular item you may not have been aware of. If you would like to make an appointment to meet with us and get your personalized Levinson’s Advance Planning Guide, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 410-653-8900 or use our Online Appointment Scheduler to pick a time that works for you.

Who Typically Serves as a Pallbearer?

In Jewish tradition, immediate mourners (spouse, children, siblings) typically do not serve as pallbearers, but in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, close family friends, et cetera, may serve. Your level of observance will determine whether men and women, or just men, can serve as pallbearers. Please ask your rabbi if you have questions.
For services in our chapel, we will call pallbearers by name and give them instructions at the end of the service (at graveside services they are not called by name, they meet at the hearse to receive instructions).
Active pallbearers (5-10 people) physically lift and carry the casket at the funeral home and again at the cemetery, and must be able to lift. For services in our chapel you may also have honorary pallbearers. If you have more than 10 people to be pallbearers, or people unable to physically lift, you may make them honorary pallbearers and they will stand in the aisle of the chapel at the end of the service in the funeral home. Fraternal groups or charitable guilds should be acknowledged as honorary pallbearers.

2018 Baltimore Sun Top Workplaces

TWP_Baltimore_2018_AWFor the 5th year in a row, Sol Levinson & Bros. is thrilled to have been nominated as one of Baltimore’s Top Workplaces! This honor is always especially meaningful to us, as it is a result of a survey of our employees.

 

You can check out the list of this year’s Top Workplaces here, but we thought we’d also share a few things our great team members have to say about working at Levinson’s:

 

• “Sol Levinson & Bros. has taken the time to get to know me, encouraging my creativity and involving me in projects where I can use my talents, learn and grow. I feel good about working for a company that not only provides an incredibly important service to the community, but also provides an atmosphere for employees to develop their skills and derive meaning from their work.”

“Even though I’m not a part of the Levinson family, I feel like I am. This is a wonderful place to work.”

• “I love the opportunity to help people get through a difficult time, and it’s nice to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

• “At Levinson Bros, I work with great people, I’m listened to, and I make a good living doing a fascinating array of things on a daily basis.”

• “I have the chance to work with great, caring people, and we all genuinely care about the jobs we do. We are a tight-knit group, and we all do our best to deliver the highest level of service and professionalism to our families. I think it is our own strong support system that enables us to give the very best service to the community.”

• “The greatest thing about working here is being able to interact with and help families at a difficult time. And I love my co-workers.”

“What I love most about my job is that I work with people who share my passion for service, and compassion for the families we serve.”

• “I feel appreciated being a source of comfort and a friend to families during a difficult time.”

• “I find a great deal of fulfillment helping people make one of the most difficult times of their life a little easier.”

• “I love that my work allows me to help grieving families by treating them with compassion.”

• “I find satisfaction in being able to help families through a difficult time, especially since I have long-lasting relationships with many families from my upbringing in Pikesville.”

• “I enjoy the people I work with, and the feeling of being part of a business that gives back to the community.”

• “I am honored by the trust that people place in me to take care of their precious loved ones.”

“Sometimes it’s the little things that go a long way. I can help these people who are going through a terrible time right now, and it’s one less thing they have to worry about. It may not be much for me, but for them, it can mean a lot.”

• “I really enjoy taking care of the families we serve. I also like working for the Levinson Family because they take care of us and I find it enjoyable to come to work.”

• “I appreciate being able to help families at a difficult time in their lives, and I am grateful to the Levinsons for giving us the freedom to help families to the best of our ability.”

Are you a compassionate, service-oriented, detail-oriented and team-oriented individual, even if you come from a completely different background? We would love to hear more about you. Send a resume to humanresources@sollevinson.com and, if we don’t currently have an opening, we will be in touch when we find a fit.

Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against otherwise qualified applicants on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation or gender, marital status, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other basis protected under federal, state or local law.

Medicare Supplement: Ask the Expert Luncheon in Ellicott City

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Tuesday, January 15
12pm
Eggspectation, Ellicott City

Join us to learn about Medicare Supplement from Tim Barnaba, adjunct professor and teacher of “Understanding Medicare and Social Security” at CCBC, and Founder and President of Barnaba Insurance & Financial Services.

Eliza Feller, Levinson’s Director of Advance Planning, will briefly discuss the benefits of the Levinson’s Advance Planning Guide.

A vegetarian/fish meal will be served. No fee to attend. Attendance by reservation only. Space is limited.

Registration is required by January 7 to AskTheExpert@sollevinson.com or 410-653-8900.

Caregiver Challenges & Resources Luncheon

Join us for this informative presentation by Jewish Community Services, to cover the challenges facing those who care for aging family members and learn about helpful resources to ease this burden.

Eliza Feller, Levinson’s Director of Advance Planning, will briefly discuss the benefits of the Levinson’s Pre-Planning Guide.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
12pm
Tark’s Grill, 2360 W Joppa Rd #116, Lutherville-Timonium

A vegetarian/fish meal will be served. No fee to attend. Attendance by reservation only. Space is limited.

RSVP by November 23 to Levinson’s via:
410-653-8900 or AskTheExpert@sollevinson.com