Chesed Shel Emes is embraced and respected by a full range of Jewish community organizations and individuals, regardless of denomination, affiliation or level of observance. We honor our loved ones and our heritage as we come together to support our community treasure. This spirit of cooperation and community drives operational excellence. What Chesed Shel Emes does is sacred, essential, and unifying.
Our Board of Directors is comprised of synagogue representatives and community members. Directors serve a 3 year term on the Board and oversee all aspects of the operation.
The Executive committee:
Immediate Past President Gerry Pritchard President, Hillel Kravetsky
Vice President, Murray Greenfield Treasurer, Stuart Pudavick
Ritual Chair, Yale Gilbert
Chesed Shel Emes has been very fortunate over the years to have many dedicated and long-serving directors and volunteers.
Honorary Life Members are individuals who have been recognized by their peers for their steadfast commitment and achievements in support of the organization’s mission.
Our traditional Jewish burial outfit, tachrihim, are simple white garments which date back to Rabban Gamliel in the second century CE. Seeing that the local custom of having elaborate burial outfits was embarrassing to the poor, Rabban Gamliel, himself a rich man, asked to be buried in inexpensive linen garments. In every generation since, Chevra Kadisha have dressed our dead in these outfits symbolizing simplicity and equality.
Tachrichim for both men and women include pants with a drawstring waist tie, a long sleeved tunic, an overshirt or Kittle, a headpiece and a belt. The face of the dead is always covered as a sign of respect. Tachrichim are made from a natural fabric, cotton or linen, with no metal or plastic fasteners or buttons.
In death we are each a holy soul, entering the realm of the Holy of Holies. The Chevra dresses the deceased carefully, methodically, with prayers and symbolic tying of the pants, belt, tunic and kittel collars, and, for the women, a bonnet. Once dressed, the body is then wrapped in a sovev, or large sheet, so is entirely covered and protected, then lifted and tucked into a plain wooden casket.
While outfits are available for purchase through various Jewish funeral suppliers, tachrichim are still sewn by women of the Chevra Kadisha in many communities. In Winnipeg, the tradition of sewing our own shrouds was reclaimed after many years of using purchased outfits. By expanding the role of our Chevra beyond Shmira and Tahara , we were able to recruit a new group of volunteers who otherwise would likely not be involved with the Chevra Kadisha.
The project has been generously supported by David Rich of Richlu Manufacturing, where the rolls of unbleached cotton are cut into the various components. The parts are bundled, boxed and delivered to the Chesed Shel Emes. Since the inception of the project, several of the sewing ladies have themselves lost family members. Knowing that their loved one is dressed in garments sewn with utmost care and respect by one of our own provides a measure a comfort.
For information about how you can get involved with the Sewing Circle, please be in touch .
Rena Boroditsky, a Winnipeg native, is deeply engaged in Jewish communal life, carrying on a long family tradition of serving both as a volunteer and as a professional in Jewish institutions.
As Executive Director of Chesed Shel Emes since 1996, Rena has blended her love of yiddishkeit and her passion for learning with her natural problem solving and organizing abilities. She has gained deep satisfaction both guiding families at their time of need, and, as a member of the Chevra Kadisha, caring for the bodies and souls of hundreds of women in their journeys.
An acknowledged student and teacher of Jewish end-of-life tradition and ritual, Rena has travelled throughout North America training new and existing Chevra Kadisha groups, and has developed and presented educational sessions and materials for Kavod v’Nichum, Gamliel Institute and Limmud.
A graduate of the Gamliel Institute Chevra Kadisha Program, she participated in the inaugural Israel Study Mission in 2015 and has since served as a Vice President of Kavod v’Nichum and a staff member of Gamliel Institute. In 2018, Rena completed the Certificate in Jewish Leadership certificate program at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.
In 2016 Rena was the proud recipient of the Larry Hurtig Jewish Communal Professional Award, which recognizes a deep commitment to the Jewish people, the highest standards of professionalism, creativity and innovation, leadership, knowledge and dedication in services provided, performance above and beyond normal standards, and warm and caring interactions to all with whom they come in contact.
Locally, together with the Executive team and Directors, Rena has successfully brought many projects to fruition: database of the deceased, Death Cafe Winnipeg, Legacy Flame project, Genizah ceremonies, web streaming services from the Chapel, Sewing Circle, and most recently our Capital campaign which raised $3.45M in support of our new facility.