Modern Mourning

25 Mar
Charlotte with her granddaughters on Passover

Charlotte with her granddaughters on Passover

My mother-in-law, Charlotte, recently passed away at the age of 93.  She was Orthodox in her religious beliefs and practices, including having kosher food delivered by ferry to her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from Baltimore before the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  But Charlotte was a thoroughly modern woman for her time in many ways, always working outside the home and furthering her education. It was fitting that the funeral took place on Purim and the rabbi appropriately made many comparisons between Charlotte and Queen Esther, another proud and strong Jewish woman.

The funeral and full week of shiva were carried out the way she would have wanted following all of the traditional ritual practices. There were minyans each morning and evening, mirrors were covered and food was delivered to comfort the mourners.

With all of these customary practices came a modern twist—the funeral service was available for viewing online in real-time, allowing Charlotte’s sister and extended family in Israel to be there.  Thinking about an old family friend who would want to know of her passing, I googled his name and easily found his email address.  Within minutes of contacting him, I received a response and within a few hours, he was reminiscing with us in person.

Thanks to Facebook and text messages, the family was comforted by many family members and friends at the funeral and during shiva. Although Charlotte never got the hang of AOL or her cell phone, this traditional yet modern woman would have appreciated that technology allowed her family to be surrounded by love and memories during this sad time.

Ilene Fox is the Director of Development at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 

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