The Torah of Six Feet Under


Exploiting death for entertainment value is a controversial endeavor. Michael Jackson notwithstanding, such practice might be frowned upon. Could putting an educational spin on a TV show about death make it acceptable? 

Jhos Singer, a Jewish transgender spiritual leader on the West Coast, recently used "Six Feet Under," the retired HBO show about a dysfunctional family in the funeral parlor business, as a launching point to discuss Jewish philosophy of death, burial and bereavement. Noach Dzmura has the story in The Forward.

This past spring, a Jewish storyteller, or magid, put a Jewish spin on "Six Feet Under" in a class, offered to stimulate the Berkeley, Calif., community’s thoughts about Jewish burial customs, in advance of the annual hevra kadisha (burial society) conference the following month. It helped me to understand that television could be Torah …

Singer taught that rather than hiding death or minimizing its impact on the living, Jewish tradition considers death a time of transition no less worthy of our honor and attention than birth or marriage. Because four of our classmates were active members of the synagogue’s hevra kadisha, participants conversed weekly with people who honored a Jewish commitment to the end of life.

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