Updated Funeral Guidance from Reform Judaism
The Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors together with the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors have revised their guidelines with regards to mourners attending funerals. They now permit the presence of small groups of relatives or close friends.
More information about the new Guidelines can be found by clicking here
Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service launches new online support service
During these unprecedented times, when there is enormous need for support, Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service (JBCS) would like to bring your attention to an online bereavement support group Butterflies, which they are planning to start.
Butterflies is specifically for parents of young children, who are themselves coping with the loss of a parent.
The group is facilitated by trained professionals, from the JBCS, who offer guidance and support.
Contact details are:
T: 020 8951 3881
Resource is a free and confidential out-placement service for unemployed members of the community. The team of over 50 professional HR and business experts provide practical and effective advice and support to more than 400 people a year back into the workplace.
Yahrzeit Guidance during the Coronavirus Pandemic
In these times, we are facing many challenges. In normal times, we light the yahrzeit or memorial candle at home on the evening before this date. In normal times we offer a mitzvah in the synagogue on the Shabbat immediately afterwards, so that you can honour the memory of your relative and recite kaddish in the community.
Very sadly, these are not normal times. Nonetheless it is ever more important to honour the memories of our loved ones in ways that strengthen our connection to them and to the community.
If you have a candle at home, then you have the option to light it on the evening before this date. Jewish tradition recognises that memorial lights were always made of a variety of different materials and even include electric tea lights nowadays. If you do not have a memorial candle in your home, please find a safe alternative that you can easily use. If you do not have a safe alternative to hand, my strong advice to you is to leave a physical space where you would normally light the candle, just for this year. We must remember that all our mitzvot, or commandments, and customs, are given to us to enhance our lives. We should not be making extra shopping trips at this time, or asking others to do this for us.
Indeed, lighting a memorial candle at the yahrzeit is a very recent Jewish custom. Until around the 1700s it was far more usual for Jews to fast on the yahrzeit, and to give tsedakkah to the poor. In fact, tsedakkah for the poor always was more strongly urged, because many people cannot fast safely. In these days, fasting is not a sensible act, since it makes us more vulnerable. But there are many many charities, including local food banks, that need your extra support at this time. I suggest you make your donation in memory of your loved one.
Finally, while it is not possible to offer each other the physical comfort of coming to synagogue, and joining in with kaddish, please let us know if you would like your relative’s name to be included when kaddish is recited when we come together online over Shabbat. I hope it will be helpful for you to know that myself, Rabbi Baaden and community members are thinking of you.
May God comfort all who mourn and wishing you long life.
Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu