In first person: Returning from dead

This funny story begins at a not-so-funny occasion.

My girlfriend and I recently attended a “Service of Healing and Memory” sponsored by the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center.

We arrived at Congregation Sherith Israel a little late. There was a table outside the sanctuary overflowing with brochures and books. I hurriedly signed our names in one of the guest books before we went inside.

Rabbi Miriam Senturia and Rabbi Eric Weiss conducted a beautiful service. Many people who attended were grieving for loved ones and the service touched their hearts. The sound of their sobbing filled the temple.

About midway through the liturgy, Senturia paused to read the names of the people who had died and were being mourned by those in attendance. I whispered to my friend that I hoped the list wasn’t gleaned from the book I had signed when we entered the sanctuary.

To our horror, it was!

Both of our names were announced from the bimah! We were aghast and, as is often the case in embarrassing situations, we nervously began to laugh. The people around us were all weeping; we couldn’t stop laughing.

At the end of the evening, everyone joined hands in a circle to say the closing prayers. I noticed that another friend of mine, Shirley, was also at the service. Shirley looked like she had seen a ghost. “You’re alive!” she shouted. “It’s a miracle!”

I searched for Senturia to apologize. At first, she looked at me with disdain. Then she realized that this error had shaken my friend and me to the core.

With a spirit of lovingkindness, she gently advised us that we could view this mistake as a great opportunity. We could allow the part of the self that hinders us and makes us small to die. And then we would be free to cultivate fullness and richness in our lives.


Carole Priven
Carole Priven

Carole Priven is a resident of San Francisco. She is an attorney and gerontologist and volunteers as a traumatic grief and loss counselor.