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It all started when we were sitting shiva:
There are four of us: Yosefa and Mick Jaron, and David and Sima Gross, two couples, four people; one family. David is Yosefa’s son. In 2011 when our family was thrown a curve ball. Yosefa’s younger brother, David’s Uncle Allen lay dying in his home outside of Albany, New York.

Over a matter of months the family cared for Allen 24/7. The four of us are Orthodox Jews; Allen was not. When he raised the issue of wanting to be cremated because Allen did not want to be buried in the cold, cold ground, it was David who promised to wrap him in a tallis, and thus allayed his Uncle’s fear.

When Allen did pass, one of us stayed with him until he was about to be prepared for burial; this is part of our tradition. It shows honor to the deceased. In her hometown of Cincinnati, Yosefa regularly assists in the preparation of the departed for burial, a ritual called “tahara”. Mick and David did the same for Allen. And David, as promised, did wrap his Uncle in a brand new tallis.

Most of Allen’s friends were like him, unaffiliated and secular. Many of them were not Jewish, but shared a special kinship with him. At the grave site, the Rabbi was able to provide this diverse group with a sense of cohesiveness because of their love for Allen and for their respect of his Jewish traditions: In a sense, Allen and his family, our family, were doing it the right way, at the funeral and beyond.

It was during the seven day Shiva mourning period, that Sima came up with the idea of using the internet to honor the deceased and to console the mourner. While it is true that the family was thrown a curve ball, we stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park.

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