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Jewish Death Practices:
Overview / Summary
Origins and History
Visiting the Sick or Dying 

Phases of Death Observance
    Approaching the Time of Death
    Between Death and Burial
    Burial and Cremation 
    Mourning Practices

Spiritual Aspects
Funeral Homes
Funeral Contracts


Chevra Kadisha:
Articles about Chevra Kadisha

Tahara Manuals and Procedures
Tahara Training
Tahara Stories
Tahara Supplies Lists
Funeral Home Supplies


Organ Donation


Infection Control


Next Conference
Previous Conferences


Learning & Resources:
Gamliel Institute

KNIT Resource Center
    Contacts for Answers
    Catalog of Articles
    Additional Links

FAQ About Death and Dying
Modern Dilemmas
Guided Learning
Jewish Sources and  Responsa
Synagogue Brochures
Community Education

Gamliel Institute


Creating Holy Community in Life and Death

"Formerly, the expense of carrying out the dead was harder on the family than the death itself; the family therefore abandoned the corpse and fled.  [This practice changed when] Rabban Gamliel [President of the Sanhedrin] disregarded his own dignity, and had his body carried out in flaxen shrouds. Afterwards, all the people followed his lead and had themselves carried out in flaxen shrouds."

Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan 27a-27b

The Gamliel Institute is a center for study, training, and advocacy concerning Jewish end of life practices. The Institute is a project of Kavod V'Nichum (Honor and Comfort), a North American organization which provides assistance, training, and resources about Jewish death and bereavement practice for Chevra Kadisha groups and bereavement committees in synagogues and communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Currently no North American rabbinical school, chaplaincy, mortuary or thanatology certification program offers a comprehensive articulated certification program to deal with all the issues surrounding the end of life from a Jewish perspective. The Gamliel Institute fills that gap by addressing the issues and challenges which have an impact on individuals and families and which have implications for communal responsibility. In an environment that acknowledges the contributions of all the streams of Judaism, the Institute brings together diverse disciplines, community organizing, consumer advocacy, bikkur cholim, chaplaincy and rabbinics, thanatology, hospice care, grief therapy, funeral direction, cemetery management, and legacy planning and preparation into the creation of a unique, comprehensive training program.

Institute students include Chevra Kadisha volunteers, rabbis, chaplains, funeral directors, and Jewish communal professionals. Institute faculty will be drawn from notable, respected educators, historians, scholars, and activists. The Institute's Academic Dean is Rabbi Stuart Kelman, author, Jewish educator, and founding rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. Dan Fendel is the Dean of Students. David Zinner is the Executive Director.

The centerpiece of the Institute is a certification program employing a variety of distance-learning and on-site practicum formats.  Students meet each year at the annual Kavod v'Nichum Conference (usually in the early summer) for in-person training and networking and are expected to participate in local training opportunities as well as other relevant national conferences.  The culminating component of the certificate program is a three-week practicum/study tour to New York, Prague (the home of the first Chevra Kadisha), and Israel to study with local chevra kadisha groups and experts. Our course focus covers five major areas: chevra kadisha, tahara, education and training strategies, nechama, and traditional practices.

By the end of the program, students develop theoretical and practical expertise in the halachot, minhagim, logistics and finances surrounding serious illness, death, funerals, burial, mourning, and legacy preparation, including ethical wills. Students are prepared to work with and assist grieving families before and after death and to organize and train volunteers to perform these mitzvot in their communities.

Will students attend? At August of 2015 there were 90 students. And there is great interest in the Jewish community. Over 3/4 of a million people have visited, Kavod v'Nichum's website. The Chevra Kadisha Conferences are well attended and have generated enthusiastic response. There is a hunger for in-depth education. The Gamliel Institute fills this critical void in education and service delivery and has the potential to change the current culture surrounding end of life issues in the Jewish community - from denial and neglect to awareness, acceptance, and healthy integration into family and community life.

Registration is open.

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Academic Bulletin - 2018

Interested in learning more? Contact Us:

For additional information about Kavod v'Nichum see

Thank you to our many generous supporters, especially:

The Covenant Foundation
The Irving & Marian Rosenblum Tzedakah Fund of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation
The Sequoia Fund in memory of Barbara Fromm,  z”l.


Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington