Sacred Waters


 (Mayim Kedoshim)

Customs of Farewell from the Jewish Tradition.

About Taharah

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Sacred Waters


 (Mayim Kedoshim)

Customs of Farewell from the Jewish Tradition.

About Taharah

CREATIVE TAHARAH

The Taharah ceremony as it is practiced in the Jewish community today typically occurs at a mortuary, performed by a team of trained Jewish participants, under strict protocols designed to provide a consistent ritual experience for all who are served.

Sacred Waters' officiants have a slightly different approach. We seek to make the ritual as beautiful and meaningful to the family that requests it as possible, and are thus open to modifications, such as:

Location

We bring the washing ritual to you, in care facilities or at home, indoors or in a private yard.

Participation

Family and caregivers are welcome to find a role in the ritual, from washing and dressing to singing along. Sacred Waters does not limit the ritual based on the religion, religiosity or gender of the meit or participants. It is for anyone for whom it would be appropriate and meaningful .

Personalization

The ritual can be enhanced in ways that honor the decedent, incorporating nods to their favorite things. One family asked that Disney collectable cups from the deceased's collection be used for pouring the water. Another asked that the ritual occur poolside so that the water that the deceased so loved could be part of the ceremony.

Non-traditional circumstances

A washing ceremony is a great way to incorporate Jewish ritual when other Jewish customs
will not be practiced, such as if there will not be a public funeral, or if cremation is planned.

Unlike much mortuary work, taharah can be chemical free and biodegradable,
making it well suited for today's "green" burials.

 

Ritual For All


You don't have to be religious, or even to believe in God, to want to connect with faith and community through authentic ritual. Anyone for whom Jewish teachings or identity has resonance may find them comforting.

To quote the 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonides,

"He who performs a single mitzvah (sacred act) inclines himself and the entire world towards merit, causing its deliverance and salvation."

 

 

Ritual For All


You don't have to be religious, or even to believe in God, to want to connect with faith and community through authentic ritual. Anyone for whom Jewish teachings or identity has resonance may find them comforting.

To quote the 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonides,

"He who performs a single mitzvah (sacred act) inclines himself and the entire world towards merit, causing its deliverance and salvation."

 

 

Old is New

Sacred Waters' specialists bring peace to the dying, and empowerment and comfort to those who mourn, by putting Judaism's rich trove of end-of-life practices into their hands.

Sacred Waters (Mayim Kedoshim in Hebrew) is a modern take on a chevra kaddishah, or Jewish burial society. For centuries, Jewish families gathered at home to care for a loved one as they transitioned from this world. Their local chevra was there at every step, to pray with them; to provide the customary bathing ceremony after death (taharah) and the guarding of the loved one (shomer); to lead the family to the cemetery for the funeral; and to help with the shiva, or mourning rites.

Sacred Waters works with today's families to provide a similar spectrum of care. We are Jewish hospice chaplains, medical and death care professionals, drawn together by our love of Jewish ritual and our wish to serve the unaffiliated Jewish community at end-of life. We make these rituals available to families, in the home as well as in mortuaries, and we accommodate what families need to make the rituals their own. We are committed to making the time of a home death meaningful and healing for the family, and deeply honoring of the deceased, in a truly Jewish way.

purification

Taharah is essentially a symbolic mikvah dip for the deceased, prior to dressing them for burial. The decedent is given a sponge bath, and then water is poured over the body in an ablution believed to free them of all uncleanlinesses of this world. The act is considered Judaism's highest mitzvah, or sacred duty, because it is something essential, yet no one can do it for themselves, and those who perform it for another will never hear a "thank you."

Interest in both receiving and participating in taharah is on the rise among Jews of all backgrounds. Reasons include its powerful imagery, its link to Jewish history, and the opportunities it provides to fulfill a sacred duty, express love and begin healing.

Taharah honors the miracle of the human body, and the soul that is believed to linger nearby until the funeral. Through the ritual’s metaphor-rich liturgy, both body and soul are prepared to meet the Holy One of Blessing in the Temple on High.


Watch this video to learn more about the taharah ritual.

 
 

Click below for your free copy of

Jewish Ritual Wishes at End of Life,
a booklet designed to augment other end-of-life planning documents with information about the Jewish rituals mentioned on this Web site. Print it out as a booklet on 8.5x11 paper.