Rabbi Anne Brener and Navigating the Wilderness of Loss

Rabbi Anne Brener brought her insights, compassion and wisdom to Beit Ahavah last week in a workshop  about “Navigating the Wilderness of Loss: The Geography of Jewish Mourning. ”

It has been a difficult year for our community.  In that sense, Rabbi Brener’s workshop was well-timed to help us learn and think about individual and community healing.

As Rabbi Jack Riemer wrote in the foreward to Rabbi Brener’s book,  Mourning and Mitzvah: “It is hard to work through one’s grief when there are so many cover-ups and so many different kinds of denial at work within the culture. And that is why this book is of so much importance. Anne Brener has crafted a walkway through the valley of the shadow of death. The walkway has thorns and bramble bushes on it but it leads to the other side, beyond grief, for those who are willing to stay the course. ..”

Rabbi Brener spoke not only to those currently mourning a death or other loss, but also to those who help the mourners through this journey.  She talked about how when the temple stood in the ancient city of Jerusalem, mourners walked through the gates and into the courtyard along a specifically designated mourner’s path. As they walked, they came face to face with all the other members of the community, who greeted them with the ancestor of the blessing, “May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” In this way, the community embraced those suffering bereavement, yet allowed for unique experiences of grief.  Rabbi Brener  helped our community think about how to face those in mourning, to face our own losses, and to learn how a community can come together and help each other heal.