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Gamliel Institute

Student Projects

Picture this

Teaching end-of life practices by

illustrating the values they represent

Project Abstract


Traditionally, Jewish life cycle has been taught chronologically. This answers the “what” we do, but not “why.” Rabbi Joshua Elkin suggests organizing the material by the values the practices exemplify. This presentation does just that, and illustrates those ideas with pictures, references to Jewish texts, and examples of current practice.


Teaching the last life cycle transition organized by the values inherent in the practice is an innovative idea proposed by Rabbi Joshua Elkin. Rabbi Me’irah Illinsky takes this idea a step forward in a power point presentation. She illustrates each value not only with pictures, but with verses from Torah, Talmud and prayerbook, as well as listing many current practices that exemplify each value. It can be used as:


 • a teaching tool for independent study

 • as a resource for teachers who will want to

    explore the various sources listed, or use it

    to teach Jewish practice at the end of life

• a thoughtful exercise for those familiar with

   the topic to think about it in terms of values.


Student Profile


Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky was ordained at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2007 after a career as a clinical social worker. She has studied with the Gamliel Institute for four years, and was instrumental in establishing a chevra kadisha and consecrating a Jewish cemetery in Williamsburg, VA. She currently serves as a Hospice chaplain for VITAS in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she uses her family therapy work, artwork and rabbinics to comfort the dying and the bereaved.