Rabbi Coran will lead a class titled ‘Providing Solace at the House of Mourning: Training for Shiva Minyan Leaders’ at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Feb. 4 and Wednesday Mar. 11. The class is for all congregants interested in preparing to lead services in the homes of the bereaved during the week of shiva. Each session will cover identical material so participants may choose the date that best suits their schedules.
In addition to learning the traditions of shiva and customs for being in a house of mourning, participants will learn to conduct a minyan service using the Gates of Prayer for Weekdays at a House of Mourning booklet. The only requirements are a working knowledge of prayer book Hebrew and a facility for its correct pronunciation when read from Hebrew text or transliteration.
“It’s a sacred mitzvah for congregants to be able to do this,” Rabbi Coran said. “Rabbi Kahan and I are organizing a corps of volunteers whom we can call upon to lead minyan services. Those who take this class will have the knowledge and ability to provide this beautiful and meaningful observance.”
Though conducting a minyan service has traditionally been the purview of rabbis, Rabbi Coran said that cultural changes in Reform Judasim practices have allowed for others to provide this special type of comfort to grieving families. She noted that having congregational volunteers available to conduct minyan services would permit Rockdale’s rabbis to spend more time with the bereaved in less crowded moments of the week following a funeral.
“This is also a way for temple members to become more involved in the life of the congregation and to forge meaningful bonds among one another,” she said. “It isn’t necessary to have the mourning ritual ‘professionalized’ when so many congregants are capable—and, we hope, willing—to become proficient at facilitating it.”
Rabbi Coran also stressed that there are several approaches to creating a meaningful minyan service. Those who take the class will be guided in ways to work with bereaved family members in choosing the ritual and prayers most meaningful to them. They will also be trained to assist a family member in providing meaningful remarks about the departed, or to perform this honor themselves, in cases where the funeral took place out of town.
Everyone interested in taking the class is requested to RSVP to the temple office with the date they plan to attend. Contact Rabbi Coran for further information.