Learning Jewish Traditions for a Funeral

As a continuation of the story we are documenting following college student Jilliann Rutherford through her studies to become a funeral director in the state of Michigan at Wayne State University's mortuary science program.

Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny from Temple Israel was professor Sharon Gee-Mascarello's guest speaker recently. As the professor set the stage for the class, she made it very clear that you will need to take a great deal of notes because the Rabbi will offer a tremendous amount of information.

As the attractive Rabbi, mother of three, entered the room, you could tell this is not what the students were expecting. In her soft but authoritative and commanding voice, she said, "Not what you were expecting, I bet!" The students laugh.

In fact, Rabbi Jennifer is one of Michigan's most respected Rabbis, calling Temple Israel in West Bloomfield her home since 2004. One of Rabbi Jennifer's primary roles for her congregation is to help families with the end of life process. Besides her work at temple Israel, she is also an employee at Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network working closely with patients on a regular basis as they approach what we will all face someday - the end of life.

Back to the classroom, our Rabbi, using only the dry erase board, writes countless notes in English and Hebrew and carefully explains in easy to understand terms traditions that date back thousands of years. It was obvious by the questions and focused attention of the students understanding the Jewish community and their approach to the celebration of a life is absolutely critical if you are going to be considered in anyway a professional funeral director in the state of Michigan.