The authors have written a handbook for readers in high school and older on understanding death from within a Jewish framework, basing their discussion on halachah (Jewish law) and custom. Goldberg, a therapist, and Lieberman, a social worker, begin with a comforting letter to parents and educators, stressing their understanding of our discomfort with the subject of death. They intend this book to be used for a lifecycle class on death and dying. It will enlighten readers on what to expect when paying a shivah visit, and how to comfort the mourner. The soothing cover symbolically shows a butterfly flying away. In the first section of the book, there are eight chapters that address the subject of death using stories from real life. Each chapter ends with a list of recommended readings found in the second section of this book. These are “essays written by Torah authorities and esteemed colleagues, authors and songwriters in order to provide a conceptual framework of the unique Torah and psychological approach to death.” In these, lay people and professionals’ “struggle to understand, mourn, and accept loss and grief.” In one of these essays, Sherri Mandel, whose son Koby was murdered by terrorists, says that for her, recovery from grief came not from being told to be strong but from being allowed to change and grow. Included here are exercises to do, such as writing an obituary for someone who has recently died, then writing one about yourself telling how you would like to be remembered after 120 years. A discussion of ethical wills and an exercise to create one is included. Aside from the fact that it is missing an index and a bibliography citing its sources, this is an excellent book for traditional schools with observant students, because of the religious references (all of which are defined). It is also helpful for non-observant readers, whether they are learning about Jewish death rituals or are going through the grief process. Recommended for counselors, rabbis, parents and teachers to use with ages 14 – adult.
Andrea Davidson is the librarian of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and is a former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee. She enjoys trying out the books she reviews on the kids at the Temple and on her grandchildren.