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Death & Mourning

Returning to Pearl Harbor Returning to Pearl Harbor
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, Vernon Olsen was a 21-year-old seaman assigned to mess hall duty aboard the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the calm waters of Pearl Harbor.  At 7:55 that morning, the ship's air raid alarm sounded.
In the Jewish Dark Continent In the Jewish Dark Continent
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Most American Jews descend from ancestors who resided in the Pale of Settlement, the territory from the Black Sea to the Baltic in which Jews were confined by the Czars.  A new book describes one effort to chart that territory.
Mourning, Memory, and Art Mourning, Memory, and Art
Monday, August 8, 2011 by Richard McBee | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

David Roberts (1796–1864) was a Scottish painter who in the late 1830's traveled extensively in the Levant and Egypt documenting "Orientalist" sites in drawings and watercolors. Among Roberts's paintings was a massive 1849 work, The Destruction of Jerusalem.
“The Sickening Question”: God, Cancer, and Us “The Sickening Question”: God, Cancer, and Us
Monday, April 4, 2011 by Eve Levavi Feinstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Many scholars of the Bible and ancient Judaism prefer to focus exclusively on ancient texts and the world that produced them, refraining from engaging with the implications of their work for contemporary religious life. James L. Kugel has never been one of those scholars.
Cemetery Politics Cemetery Politics
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the many bones its various enemies pick with the Jewish state, one has been much in the news lately: bones, very dry bones, residing in cemeteries both real and imagined all across the country.  
Agunot Agunot
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Ta'anit Esther, the traditional fast day preceding Purim, will be observed tomorrow. In recent years it has been designated as an international day of study, reflection, and calls to action on behalf of agunot, literally "anchored" or "bound" women.  In biblical and talmudic law, a marriage is dissolved upon certain proof of a spouse's death or upon the granting of a divorce (get) at the husband's discretion. Each of these halakhic requirements can leave a woman languishing for years, tortured either by her husband's uncertain fate or by his malicious will. Though technically the term agunah is reserved for the former condition, it...
Holy Societies Holy Societies
Friday, February 19, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the Hebrew calendar, Sunday February 21 is the seventh day of Adar, the date traditionally marking the death of Moses on Mount Nebo, overlooking Canaan, alone with God. The Lord's personal oversight of Moses' interment, in a place "unknown to this day" (Deuteronomy 34:6), inspired the rabbis of the Talmud to praise the act of burying the dead with dignity as an expression of true (because unrecompensed) kindness and indeed of imitatio dei, the injunction to follow God's ways. So it is that the seventh day of Adar is designated by tradition to honor the institution of the Hevra Kadisha, the "holy society"...
The Heart or the Head? The Heart or the Head?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In recent decades, "brain death," the cessation of all neurological activity, has increasingly supplanted cardiac-respiratory failure as the most widely accepted medical criterion of death. This definitional shift has helped mitigate the often ruinous toll on families of caring for patients whose hearts can be artificially kept beating in the absence of even the simplest brain function. It has also saved lives, by facilitating the process of preserving and donating organs for transplantation.  Fundamental to Judaism is the idea that human beings are created in the divine image. This affirmation of human dignity finds practical expression in the thoroughgoing prohibition on murder...
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Editors' Picks
The Dangers of Closure Chaim Steinmetz, Washington Post. The modern insistence on closure for mourners is disrespectful to the dead—and fails to recognize the importance of grief, memory, and what is lost by moving on.
Death and Dignity John Cottingham, Standpoint. Euthanasia clinics claim to preserve human dignity by allowing people to terminate their lives while they remain of sound mind; but is there more to dignity than rationality?
How Much Should One Mourn? Eliakim Koenigsberg, Orthodox Union. Whereas personal mourning declines in intensity over time, our national mourning for the destruction of the Temple will increase over the next three weeks.
When Jews Opt for Cremation Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward. Despite the prohibition on cremation in Jewish law, and despite the tradition of burial, dating back to Abraham buying the land for Sarah’s grave, ever more Jews are choosing to return to ashes.
A Grief Observed Eitan Fishbane, Atlantic. "Three and a half months it took me, but today when I woke I knew all of a sudden; all at once I was filled with the desire, with the need, to visit your grave": a young widower's kaddish.
Declaring Death Gil Student, Torah Musings. In the 1960's, Israeli doctors began aggressively promoting the view that declaration of death was a purely medical matter. But it wasn't easy to enlist rabbis in their cause.
9/11 and the Agunah Problem Michael J. Broyde, Yona Reiss, JTA. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the forensic challenge of identifying the dead went hand in hand, for Jewish families, with the grim quandary of dissolving marriages according to Jewish law.      
These Sacred Dead Adam Chandler, Tablet. Tucked away in hidden corners of Manhattan are some of the oldest Jewish burial grounds in the United States.
On the Ninth of Av Frank Talmage, Commentary. In Catalonia, Spain, once the scene of centuries of Jewish hopes and achievement, a student of Jewish history is beset by a torrent of emotions.
Amy Winehouse, Cremation, and the Jews Alan Brill, Book of Doctrine and Opinions. More than half of Americans in Western states are being cremated after death; can the Jewish community be far behind, and where have modern Jewish authorities stood on the issue?