Monday, November 10, 2008

Overturned Shovels

A few short weeks ago, Mark was able to join us in our ground-breaking. He had been struggling with illness for the past two years and he seemed to be improving. On November 4, he passed away. Friday, our congregation performed the mitzva of burying the dead. Rabbi Annie, from the Princeton Jewish Center, was here with a group of Jewish teenagers who are helping to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She explained why we turn the shovels upside down and do not pass it from person to person.
It is done this way because even though we are doing a mitzva, it is one that should be done without haste. It also has to be done as a community.

Mark was full of laughter. He was one of those people that you almost immediately feel a sense of friendship. He was the caretaker for our shul before Hurricane Katrina damaged it beyond repair. He saved our Torah scrolls by evacuating them to a safe place. It has been hard watching he and Mom struggle these past few years. He did it while keeping a sense of humor. We are going to miss him.


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

While Im familiar with not passing the shovel from hand to hand (and sticking it in the ground, or letting it fall), I never heard of turning shovels upside down.

Will need to google this one...

My condolences on Mark's passing.

shira0607 said...

Thank you. It looks like the custom of overturning shovels is a Reform one. Learn something new everyday.

Jack said...

FWIW, I have seen it at Conservative and MO funerals too.