In this episode...
Karen sits down with author and activist Ben M. Freeman for an emotional discussion about Jewish grief and mourning. Karen and Ben both lost a beloved parent too soon – Ben’s father in 2017, and Karen’s mother in 2021 – and in the aftermath, each felt incredibly lucky to be Jewish and to have a millennia-old framework to lean on for getting through life’s hardest moments. They talk about their experiences of Jewish mourning traditions like shiva and yahrzeit, give advice for talking to someone who’s grieving, and share the things that have been most helpful in learning to live with their grief.
You’ll find out:
- Why Jewish mourning traditions made Ben feel proud to be Jewish
- The thing Karen found most meaningful about shiva
- Why Ben appreciates the rawness of Jewish funerals
- How Karen’s experience sitting shiva in Israel differed from Ben’s in Scotland
- Why the structure shiva provides is so grounding
- A reminder that everyone grieves differently, even within the boundaries of Jewish tradition
- Karen’s advice for keeping the memory of a late loved one alive for young children
- The meaning Ben’s found in the tradition of yahrzeit as a yearly opportunity to step back into his grief
- How Israeli music helps Karen feel connected to her mother
- Tips on how to talk to someone who’s grieving
- The things that have been most helpful for Ben and Karen in living with their grief
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Ben M. Freeman
Founder of the modern Jewish Pride movement, a Jewish leader, a Jewish thinker, and a Jewish educator, Ben M. Freeman is the author of Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People and Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride. He is an internationally renowned gay Jewish author and educator focusing on Jewish identity and historical and contemporary Jew-hatred. A Holocaust scholar for over fifteen years, Ben came to prominence during the Corbyn Labour Jew-hate crisis and quickly became one of his generation's leading Jewish thinkers and voices against anti-Jewish racism.