How we chal­lenged con­ven­tion with­out chal­leng­ing hal­lachah

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ILANA EP­STEIN

I HAVE val­ued work­ing with Jac­qui Zinkin to de­velop our book­let which en­cour­ages women to say Kad­dish. Her work in this area epit­o­mises the ap­proach of US Women, chal­leng­ing con­ven­tion with­out chal­leng­ing ha­lachah.

Juda- ism is un­par­al­leled in set­ting up ways to grieve. It pre­scribes how we should bury our dead and gives us a struc­ture by which we can grieve a close rel­a­tive’s death. Yet, af­ter women have risen from the week of shivah, dur­ing which ha­lachah has em­braced them in a com­fort­ing cer­e­mony for a full week, their male rel­a­tives might spend the rest of the year with the com­fort­ing rou­tine of at­tend­ing ser­vices and say­ing Kad­dish. Yet a woman who may also need that rou­tine to find com­fort has not al­ways found it so eas­ily.

Jac­qui’s rabbi at Gold­ers Green Syn­a­gogue, Rabbi Dr Har­vey Belovski, gave her guide­lines and as­sis­tance for say­ing Kad­dish. From that point for­ward, she started look­ing af­ter her needs as a mourner. In the last year, US Women, and the US Liv­ing & Learn­ing Depart­ment have pub­lished guide­lines for women to say Kad­dish with the guid­ance of the Chief Rabbi who has been an ad­vo­cate for en­cour­ag­ing the prac­tice.

It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity as lay lead­ers to en­sure that all mourn­ers feel con­fi­dent and se­cure enough to be able to grieve in an ap­pro­pri­ate way. For Jac­qui, this is a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment, in which her own loss set her on a path which will ul­ti­mately pro­vide for other women to mourn in a ful­fill­ing way.

This is pow­er­ful ev­i­dence of the United Syn­a­gogue and the Chief Rabbi look­ing to find ways to pro­vide for the spir­i­tual well-be­ing of women within the bound­aries of ha­lachah. Ilana Ep­stein is a United Syn­a­gogue Liv­ing & Learn­ing ed­u­ca­tor and is the reb­bet­zin of Cock­fos­ters and N. Southgate

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