The Covenant Grants

Shomer Collective Community Fellowship

Organization: Shomer Collective - powered by Natan, New York, NY

Grant Year: 2022

Project Director: Rabbi Melanie Levav

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $150,000 (3 years)


End of Life Education
Professional Development

What do you think is the biggest misconception related to ideas around end of life, and how will this project address it?

There are many misconceptions around end of life concepts. First, too many people think that it’s a topic only suitable for adults, and older adults at that. Next, there are a variety of superstitions around talking about death and dying, including the idea that talking about death will summon the angel of death. And as it applies to Jewish education, the biggest misconception is probably the collective thinking that death and dying are topics that should be relegated exclusively to a lifecycle curriculum.

The Fellowship curriculum will focus on liminal moments in people’s lives and on the Jewish calendar as entry points for Jewish educational engagement. This will illuminate the innumerable times when it is not merely possible but advantageous to talk about, learn about, and plan for the inevitable end of life.

When your project has concluded, what changes are you hoping to see in the Jewish community?

As a result of this work, end of life will be spoken about more openly, thoughtfully, and frequently in a variety of Jewish educational settings, creating opportunities to engage with Jewish wisdom, values, and practices as part of the experience of living Jewishly through key lifecycle moments and stages. The Fellowship will create both a community of practice to support educators integrating Jewish wisdom about life and death into their work, as well as create a robust curriculum bank for use by other educators in any number of settings.

What is your favorite Jewish text regarding end of life, and why?

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote “…existence embraces both life and death, and in a way death is the test of the meaning of life. If death is devoid of meaning, then life is absurd. Life’s ultimate meaning remains obscure unless it is reflected upon in the face of death.”

Heschel reminds us that death isn’t something to fear; its very existence is what helps us to understand the meaning of life.


Shomer Collective website