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Oct 30 2014

Jewish Lifecycle Events–Now in Animation!

By at 2:33 pm

g-dcast videos

Looking for a way to learn more about Jewish customs, but tired of reading all those… words? Our friends at G-dcast have just released a new series of animated videos all about various Jewish lifecycle events, so you can sit back, press play, and learn something new.

Three of the videos may be particularly pertinent to Kveller readers, as they’re all about–you guessed it–babies. Below, check out videos about Jewish naming practices, a traditional bris, and baby naming ceremonies for newborn girls. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry →

Why I Love Being Part of a Jewish Burial Society

By at 12:55 pm

After Work, I Purify Women’s Bodies for Burial

I have a secret identity. It doesn’t involve superhero capes or special powers. There’s no quick change in a telephone booth, but nonetheless I walk a little taller every time I complete this act. It isn’t for the weak of heart or faith. My secret identity is being a part of the chevra kadisha (“burial society,” or a group of committed Jews who prepare a body for burial) as we perform tahara (purification). I became involved with the chevra kadisha before I had children, when a shul member, who knew that I was a nurse and therefore experienced with death, approached me about joining.

In the dark of night, or light of day, I go with friends from shul to a funeral home, where a body awaits us and where we are charged with cleaning, preparing, and dressing a newly deceased woman in the Jewish traditional methods. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 12 2013

Buying My Son from a Priest for a Few Silver Coins

By at 9:51 am

silver coinsI knew my life had gotten strange when I found myself standing in my in-laws’ living room, having recently purchased my son from a priest, as my husband threw chocolate silver coins down my hooter hider while I breastfed my son.

We were at my in-laws for my son’s pidyon haben, a ceremony where a firstborn male child who meets all sorts of criteria, such as resulting from a vaginal birth and not having a mother who is the child of a Cohen or a Levi, is redeemed from Temple service. I am pretty ambivalent about all things Temple-related so it wasn’t the top ritual to perform on my list. Breastfeeding in public while among a large group of elderly relatives was also not on the top of my list, but I had low milk supply and my son was latched on, more or less, 10 hours a day, so secluding myself entirely for months didn’t seem like a viable option.

My husband had apparently gone a bit bonkers from sleep deprivation, which was accounting for the throwing the chocolates down my hooter hider while yelling out “Fifty points! I am going to be able to win a cheap plastic toy!” Apparently the last level of sleep deprivation-induced insanity involves confusing your wife for an arcade game. Read the rest of this entry →

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