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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
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Chevra Kadisha:
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Tahara Manuals and Procedures
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Funeral Home Supplies


Organ Donation


Infection Control


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Learning & Resources:
Gamliel Institute

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    Catalog of Articles
    Additional Links

FAQ About Death and Dying
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The Melaveh Project


Melaveh (מְלַוֶּה): One who accompanies

A free service offering emotional and spiritual support
 for Jewish people at the end of life, and for their loved ones.


The Jewish culture has a strong commitment to visit the sick (Bikkur Cholim) and attend to the dead and their mourners (Chevrah Kadisha).

The Melaveh Project was conceived to add to these mitzvot: to provide comfort to Jews at the end of their lives, and to support their caregivers and loved ones at the same time.

We welcome all levels of observance, secular Jews, interfaith families, Jews of color, and LGBTQ Jews. Anyone who identifies as being Jewish is eligible to receive our services.

Melaveh volunteers are able to discuss Jewish perspectives around traditions, rituals, and prayers used during the dying time.

We welcome inquiries from both patients and their loved ones or caregivers.

A helpful way to understand our service is to consider how birth doulas support the mother and family during labor. Their role is to ease the birthing process by providing comforting care to the laboring mother and her loved ones in attendance.

Melaveh volunteers attend to the dying in a similar way, providing support and comfort by accompanying our fellow Jews and their families during the final weeks, days, and hours of life. We can help ease this final transition for everyone involved.

We DO NOT provide physical, medical, or nursing care.
We DO offer a compassionate Jewish presence during the dying time.

Our services are offered at no cost to our clients.

Melaveh was featured in a recent article, New approach to dying: 'end-of-life doulas', in the San Francisco area's local Jewish newspaper, J - the Jewish News of Northern California.

At this time, we are primarily serving those living in El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany, Berkeley, and Emeryville, California. We visit people at their homes, in the hospital, and in Skilled Nursing or Residential Care Facilities. It may be possible for people who live outside of these areas to arrange visits on a case-by-case basis, depending on our volunteers' availability.

To find out how we can help you:

Phone - (510) 649-5724
Email -


Melaveh Steering Committee:

Herb Brosbe, MD
Rabbi Stuart Kelman
Dan Fendel
Zoe Francesca
Lori Goldwyn
Nan Strauss
Peter Strauss

Please note that in order to use the Melaveh Project's services, the dying individual must have in place:

  • an advanced directive,
  • a proxy for health care decisions,
  • a Physician's Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)


The Melaveh Project is under the umbrella of Kavod v'Nichum, a North American non-profit organization that encourages and assists the organization of bereavement committees and Chevrah Kadisha groups in synagogues and communities. Kavod v'Nichum is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Donations to support the Melaveh Project may be made by clicking here.

or by sending a check to:

Melaveh Project
c/o Kavod v'Nichum
8112 Sea Water Path
Columbia, MD 21045


October 2018

Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington