Tradition & Innovation

Ritual for Donating the Organs, Body, or Tissue of Someone Who has Died

stone with the word remember on it on a tree stump

Family member(s) may alternate reading stanzas, one person can read, or the chaplain may read:

These things I know:

               How the living go on living

And how the dead go on living with them

So that in a forest

               Even a dead tree casts a shadow

               And the leaves fall one by one

And the branches break in the wind

And the bark peels off slowly

And the trunk cracks

               And the rain seeps in through the cracks

And the trunk falls to the ground

And the moss covers it

               And in the spring the rabbits find it

And build their nest

Inside the dead tree

So that nothing is wasted in nature

           Or in love.

—"Life After Death," by Laura Gilpin


Ruakh Ha’Olam,
We come to you from a place of sh’virah (brokenness) 

Our beloved [Hebrew name of the deceased] has died
And we are left with our pain
Our confusion
Our shock
And our sadness 

Even as we grieve [his/her/their] death,
We honor the life of [name]
We make a blessing of [his/her/their] memory
By fulfilling [his/her/their] promise
To give life to another 

Ruakh Ha’Olam,
In donating the [body/organs/tissue] of [name],

We pray that from our brokenness, a shleimut (wholeness) may be found

May this gift bring light, hope, and healing to another’s darkness
And may we be comforted in the darkness of our grief
By the love and light that surround us.

Together: Amen

Clergy: Zikhron[o/a] livrakha – may [name]’s memory be for blessing, and hamakom yenakhem etekhem betokh shaar avelay tziyon viyrushalayim  may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Together: Amen

If it is the custom of the hospital, whomever is available can line the halls as the deceased is wheeled out, followed by the family, in silence.

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