Sorra Landau: Midwife and Chevra Kadisha Member

Sorra Landau: Midwife and Chevra Kadisha Member

Today I realized that the 1 month anniversary of Mom’s death falls on Yoni’s 6th birthday, the 18th of Kislev.
Which reminded me of an unexpected call I received this week from Sorra Landau, a midwife I’ve known for over 20 years. Sorra called in response to my recent posts about Mom’s passing in order to share something I never knew about her: in addition to being a midwife she’s also been a Chevra Kadisha member, preparing bodies for burial, for the past 45 years.
Sorra told me how she, at the age of 25, had asked to join her local Chevra Kadisha in Boro Park, Brooklyn, which at the time included only elderly Holocaust survivors. She was summarily rejected: No way, girlie! You’re too young for this!
Sorra’s response? “If you don’t train me, who will serve in the Chevra Kadisha in coming generations?”
That made the woman Sorra had approached think it over, and she ultimately gave in: “When I was your age, I was burying bodies in Auschwitz. If I could do that at 25, I guess you can do this.”
Later on, Sorra made aliya and she co-founded the Chevra Kadisha of Hebron and then in the newly established Kiryat Arba. For decades, Sorra would travel from the hospital to deliver babies, to home, to the Chevra Kadisha, and back again.
Sorra Landau recently turned 70 and retired from her work as a midwife (but not before she delivered her first great-grandchild:). And as soon as the pandemic ends, she intends to return to her work with the Chevra Kadisha.
When we spoke, Sorra emphasized 2 things:
Firstly: Young women in smaller communities should consider joining understaffed Chevra Kadishas, as she did.
And secondly, and this was something Sorra repeated over and over: that her work in the delivery room and the Chevra Kadisha had been the same. The same! In the delivery room and with the Chevra Kadisha she had experienced the exact same intimate holiness and awe as she witnessed the passage of a Jewish soul from one world to the other.

6 comments

  1. Sara Miriam

    Mrs. Landau is a special soul. She was my midwife for my second birth. She stayed on after her shift so I would feel more secure and missed her bus home in the process. I am so grateful to her.

    • sorra also delivered my 3rd child, my daughter maayan 18 years ago (with emuna witt at my side as labor coach). She made it a very uplifting and spiritual experience–unlike any other midwife I ever had.

  2. I don’t understand the part where you write that after the pandemic is over, she will return to her work in chevra kadisha.
    as far as I know, the work of chevra kadisha never stops, not even during a pandemic.
    did I misunderstand?

  3. Sarah Weiss

    The chevra kadisha ( or misrad habriut) doesn’t let people over 65 work during the pandemic since that age group is high risk.
    Sorra Landau is one of my favorite people in the world and was my “Jewish Mom” mentor maybe even before you were born Chana Jenny. I’m so happy that this generation of younger mothers has you to carry on the torch of what I learned from Sorra Landau!
    Sarah Weiss
    Kiryat Arba

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