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Sitting Shmirah

08/15/2021 10:01:43 AM


Judy Sherman

What is Shmirah? Jews believe that after a person dies, his or her soul doesn't simply vanish. A part of that soul remains with the body, stuck in a kind of limbo until burial. It's the job of the shomer, or shomeret if it's a woman, to comfort the deceased's soul.  Congregation Beth Evergreen assists families in mourning by providing this service when requested.  I recently joined the Hevra Kaddisha Chavurah and found more about this practice.  I was curious to find out more.  

When I was younger, my Grandfather used to go to the funeral home to “sit with the body”.  That was all I knew, as all topics surrounding death and dying were not considered acceptable areas of discussion at any time in my home.  Now, as an adult talking with the Chavurah, I learned that Shmirah was a way to honor and comfort the soul of the deceased by spending this special time.  The time spent is not necessarily spent in silence, but rather by reading psalms or other appropriate material aloud.  With this new knowledge and understanding, I found yet one more thing to honor and appreciate my Grandfather.

Sitting Shmirah is something I have not yet done.  But now having learned more about what is involved, I want to do this, I want to honor those who have passed, and I think sitting Shmirah is a way to do this.  As I have never done anything like this before, I will not initially go to sit Shmirah alone.  I will have a Shmirah partner, someone who will come with me and help me understand the ritual.  And share the honor of sitting Shmirah.    As I grow older, I think more about what I would want as I pass from this material world into the next more ephemeral and known place.  And having someone with me in those initial hours after passing, to ease the passing of my soul seems so comforting.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hevra Kaddisha Chavurah and or learning more about Shmirah, contact Judy Sherman or Anne Wolf.

Tue, September 28 2021 22 Tishrei 5782