Down to Earth: Vital Lessons Learned

Tablet Magazine 1/23/15


“Bury him a burial,” commands the Biblical passage at the center of our Jewish funeral imperatives — asserting that even the corpse of an executed criminal is worthy of respect. By traditional extension, all our Jewish dead are given the honor of levayah, which literally means “accompanying” to the grave.  Full levayah includes active participation in burial, which carries two protections against desecration: one of the human body (adam), the other of the earth (adamah). (...)

When we accept the loving, wrenching imperative of returning bodies to the earth — adam to adamah — our own bodies help us move from sorrow to consolation. There are vital lessons to be found at the end of a shovel. READ MORE

True stories of accompanying and return: an elderly family matriarch, a middle-aged rock star, my own father, a gravedigger's father, and a young man who lost his battle with drug addiction — but not the love of his survivors