Bereavement Support / End of Life

The Bereavement Support Group was formed to assist congregants when they are anticipating the death of a loved one or after a death has occurred. Members of the BSG can listen, talk through options for cemeteries and funeral homes, explain both traditional rituals and adaptations, assist in arranging for rituals, and more.  –

Decisions to Make When Anticipating the Death of a Loved One or After a Loved One Dies:
When a death can be anticipated, it is best to think through and communicate decisions in advance.  Otherwise, decisions such as those listed here will need to be made almost immediately following a death:

  • Selection of a funeral home
  • Whether to bury or cremate the body of the deceased
  • Selection of a cemetery or other place of burial (and purchase of a plot)
  • Type of service: funeral, graveside, memorial, or no service
  • Who will lead the funeral service, and when it will be held
  • Will tahara (ritual washing) or other ritual be performed to prepare the body for burial
  • Will shmira (accompanying or sitting with the deceased before burial) be observed during the period between death and the funeral (Hebrew word for this period: aninut)
  • Visiting hours: dates, times, and location when family will receive visitors (‘sit shiva’)
  • Will shiva services be held (in person or virtual), and who will conduct them
  • Obituary: In addition to telling the story of the deceased, the obituary should—as appropriate and relevant—tell the time and place of the service and burial, of gatherings following the service or at other times, and of shiva services
  • Who should be informed about the death (extended family, friends, and colleagues); how will they be informed and by whom

Contacting Congregation Tikkun v’Or:
Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman will be serving the Congregation through June 2024:
Naomi Wilensky, TvO administrator can be reached at Naomi can communicate whatever information the family would like to share with the congregation about the loss, and let the congregation know the time and location of the funeral, shiva services, etc.  She can also make arrangements if the family would like to hold the funeral service or a gathering at the Tikkun v’Or building.

The Bereavement Support Group has put together several guides that honor the spirit and traditions of Judaism while also suggesting ways of adapting traditional practices for modern times and for our multicultural community.

  • JEWISH PRACTICES AND RITUALS FOR DEATH AND MOURNING describes traditional and alternative Jewish practices during the period leading up to the end-of-life and for the year following a death. 
  • LOCAL RESOURCES WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES focuses on resources in the Ithaca area, and lays out the chain of communications and decisions needed when faced with the death of a loved one.
  • MA’ARIV FOR A HOUSE OF SHIVA: Evening Service for the First Week of Remembrance is a compilation of traditional and contemporary prayers, poetry and other readings for gatherings during the initial mourning period following burial.  This booklet is available on request by contacting the Bereavement Support Group (
On September 11, 2022, the Tikkun v’Or section of Greensprings was consecrated. Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman led the ceremony, with Lauren Korfine singing. The participants made seven stops as they circumambulated the grounds.
The celebration was lovely, with singing, psalms, poems, and reflections on the importance of all of the stages of life in our experiences, and of the importance of restoring nature. A little rain was dripping through the trees and provided the perfect setting for the consecration.
We were joined by Nancy Emerson, who is head of the women’s taharah team at Temple Beth-El,  and Michelle Menter, the manager of Greensprings. Special thanks to Martha Armstrong for working with TVO and Greensprings to make all this happen.
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