This document consists of all of the information we make available to our Shomrim, Coordinators and Area Coordinators. It is a work in progress, so please be patient.

It does auto-update with all of the latest changes so is complete. It is not formatted as well as desired, but that's a work in progress. If you have questions about this, please contact josef (at) jewish-funerals (dot) org.

============================================================

Austin's Last Responders


What is Shmirah?

Shmirah is the Jewish tradition of prayerfully or mindfully accompanying the deceased between death and burial. During this momentous transition, the shomer (one who performs the mitzvah of shmirah – plural shomrim, feminine shomeret) honors the body of the deceased by offering a protective presence, and comforts the soul as it begins its new journey away from the body, its lifelong partner.

Shmirah has the distinction of being among the last acts of kindness you can do for another person, one that no two people can do for each other, and one for which the recipient can never thank the giver. Finally, respectful care when we can no longer care for ourselves is something that each one of us is bound to need someday.

What is Austin Shmirah?

Austin Shmirah is a volunteer partnership between Jewish congregations and similar organizations on one hand, and affiliated and unaffiliated individuals on the other, to provide shmirah for local Jewish deceased regardless of affiliation or lack thereof.

How do congregations participate?

Each member congregation sets its own independent criteria regarding how it conducts the tradition of shmirah. Each congregation determines who may serve on its team (some have no restrictions at all, while others follow halachic or ritual guidelines), whether to schedule shmirah around the clock or only during office hours, whether or not to schedule shmirah on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, etc.

Each congregation appoints Shmirah Coordinators to schedule shifts and contact all shomrim serving through their congregation when the need arises. Congregational Shmirah Coordinators have access to online resources to communicate with their shomrim quickly and easily from any electronic device. They can easily “buddy up” and share shomrim when two deceased are present at the same funeral home.

Each congregation’s requirements are listed below. When registering as a shomer, please honor their wishes by partnering only with those whose requirements you meet.

Chabad of Greater Austin (COGA): Male kohanim may not serve; female kohanim may serve. Shomrim must be considered Jewish by (Orthodox) halachic standards. Please consult Rabbi Levertov (512-418-9770) or another Orthodox rabbi if you need further clarification. We ask that shomrim engage in appropriate reading (preferably Tehilim), prayer, or meditation during their shifts.

Congregation Agudas Achim (CAA, Conservative/Masorti): Shomrim must be born of a Jewish mother or have undergone a formal conversion that included mikvah (ritual immersion) and beit din (rabbinical court) and is recognized as binding by the rabbi of their own Austin congregation. Please consult your rabbi if you need further clarification. Kohanim and b’not kohanim (daughters of kohanim) may not serve. We ask that shomrim engage in appropriate reading, prayer, or meditation during their shifts.

Congregation Beth El (CBE, Traditional Conservative): Jews by birth to a Jewish mother or by formal conversion are invited to participate in shmirah. Male Kohanim are not eligible, but b'not Kohanim (women from Kohen families) are eligible. We prefer that shomrim read T'hillim (Psalms), but other appropriate reading is acceptable.

Congregation Beth Israel (CBI, Reform): We welcome all who wish to serve as Shomrim (watchers), Jewish or not, and we will provide Tehilim (Psalms) and other texts for use during their shifts.

Congregation Kol Halev (CKH, Unaffiliated): No congregational restrictions. If an individual family requests restrictions, these will be specified in the e-mail calling for shomrim.

Congregation Shalom Rav (CSR, RRC-affiliated – "a Reconstructionist Congregation Sponsoring Jewish Renewal in Austin"): We invite all members of our congregation and others to serve as shomrim in the capacity that each one brings, shaped by their own unique spiritual path, and at the same time fully conforming to all the specifications that each family of the deceased may request in their general call for shomrim. Our Chevrah Kadisha is developing a lending library of Torah-based and global religious texts that may provide benefit to the shomer and, in the meditation thereof, aid the prayerful intention of the shomer to influence a positive passage of the Soul of the deceased from this world to the next.

Congregation Shir Ami (CSA, Reform): We welcome all who wish to serve as shomrim. Rabbi Reice will meet with families to discuss any personal requests or preferences they have. We provide Shomrim with Tehilim and other texts for their shifts.

Congregation Tiferet Israel (CTI, Orthodox): We welcome those who wish to share in this ultimate mitzvah of kavod hamet (honoring the deceased). Men and women who are born of a Jewish mother or who underwent an Orthodox conversion are invited to serve. Please consult Rabbi Dan (847-612-3393) with any questions you may have. Male kohanim may not serve as shomrim, although they may be involved in the administrative portions of the mitzvah. We ask that shomrim engage in appropriate readings (preferably Psalms), prayer, or meditation during their shifts.

Firepit Minyan: No restrictions on who may serve.

Temple Beth Shalom (TBS, Reform): We welcome all who wish to serve as shomrim. If an individual family makes specific requests, these will be communicated in the e-mail calling for shomrim.

Wandering Minyan: No restrictions on who may serve.

How do shomrim participate?

Every shomer is free to choose which congregation(s) to partner with, as long as they meet the criteria of the congregation(s). Shomrim choose when to serve and how often. We do request that each shomer serve a minimum of one or two shifts per year.

As a member of Austin Shmirah, you can:

  • perform shmirah once in your lifetime just for the experience, and then cross it off your bucket list;
  • take shifts while you yourself are in mourning, as an opportunity to process your own grief while comforting others;
  • honor the memory of a loved one by serving yearly at approximately the time of the yarzeit (anniversary of death); or
  • … our favorite! … join the ranks of those who accompany the deceased on their journey every chance they get, over a period of many years.

Who benefits from Austin Shmirah?

Thanks to the cooperative nature of Austin Shmirah, there are a number of mutual benefits among congregations, shomrim, and those we serve.

  • Smaller congregations (with few shomrim among their members) get reinforcements from the rest of the community when they have many shifts to fill
  • Shomrim of larger congregations (with many deaths) avoid burnout thanks to the shifts filled by those outside the congregation
  • Shomrim who find great meaning in this mitzvah can increase their opportunities to perform it by partnering with multiple congregations
  • All deceased whom we serve are honored by shomrim from across the community, in keeping with their own congregation’s approach to the ritual. Our service is offered free of charge. Many more shifts can be filled than if each congregation were operating in isolation. All this is a comfort to the loved ones of the deceased as well

Who can be a shomer?

Anyone who is willing and able to pray, read, meditate, sing or play comforting music, and/or hold good intentions and kind thoughts for a couple of hours can join Austin Shmirah as a shomer.

  • Whether you’re a night owl looking for something to do at 3:00 AM or a homemaker/retiree with flexibility during the daytime;
  • Whether you’re an introvert who thrives on time alone or a social butterfly who needs an incentive to commit to quiet reflection now and then;
  • Whether you’re an able-bodied person or living with a physical or intellectual disability, and seeking an equal-opportunity way to bless someone just by your own unique presence;
  • Whether you have an erratic, unpredictable schedule or are able to be “on call” for a particular shift whenever it materializes;
  • Whether you’re a young person wishing to honor those who came before you or an older person anticipating how you’ll be cared for when you can no longer care for yourself;

... whoever you are, Austin Shmirah invites you to become one of the last people on earth to do an act of chesed – lovingkindness – for a fellow Jew.

How do I get started?

To join Austin Shmirah as a shomer, click Join the Chevrah Kadishah Community in the Main Menu. Under Join Austin Shmirah as a Shomer, click Register, fill out the form, and click Process Subscription.

To become a Shmirah Coordinator for your congregation, see the FAQ “How do I become a Shmirah Coordinator for my congregation?”

To shmooze over coffee (or on Zoom) about shmirah in general or Austin Shmirah in particular, click Contact Us, then click on the name of the Area Coordinator, and shoot her an email.

For spiritual and practical guidelines on how to perform shmirah, visit https://www.jewish-funerals.org/rituals-between-death-and-burial/#shmirah.

How long are shmirah shifts?

Daytime shifts, from 8 AM to 10 PM, are two hours long. Overnight shifts, from 10 PM to 8 AM, are 2½ hours long. Lengthening each overnight shift by 30 minutes eliminates the unpopular 2 AM to 4 AM slot.

Some shifts may be shortened or extended a bit by verbal agreement. For example, the first (last) shift may start (end) a bit before or after the official time, depending on when the deceased arrives at (leaves) the funeral home. There is no obligation to extend your shift if it’s not convenient for you.

Shifts immediately before and after Shabbat may be shortened to allow the shomer to observe Shabbat.

These circumstance-based changes in shift length are managed by verbal agreement between the coordinator and the shomer. On the website calendar, shift length does not change. For example, if the deceased arrives at the funeral home at 11 AM, the first shomer should sign up for the 10AM-to-noon shift and arrive at 11AM.

What is the role of the Congregational Shmirah Coordinator?

Each Austin Shmirah member congregation takes charge of the needs of its own deceased, with help from shomrim from across the entire community. To ensure each congregation’s autonomy in its approach to shmirah, and to guard against any one congregation’s becoming the “little red hen,” each congregation appoints one or more in-house coordinators.

The primary support person for all Congregational Shmirah Coordinators is the Area Coordinator. Please feel free to contact her (Main Menu->Contact Us) to discuss any aspect of your role as Congregational Shmirah Coordinator.

The primary roles of the Congregational Shmirah Coordinator include:

  • Create an entry on the “Take a Shift” page for each deceased served through the congregation
  • Solicit shomrim to fill the shifts
  • Communicate with shomrim and funeral homes as needed to ensure optimum shift coverage, personal safety, and building security
  • Consult with the Area Coordinator as needed

One-time-only and occasional roles of the Congregational Shmirah Coordinator include:

  • If the congregation is not yet a part of Austin Shmirah, advocate to join within the congregation, and contact the Area Coordinator (Main Menu->Contact Us) for help getting started
  • Recruit one or more backup coordinators to take over when the primary coordinator cannot be on duty or simply needs a break. As long as the congregation has a coordinator on duty at all times, tasks and schedules can be divvied up in any way the coordinators see fit
  • Recruit new shomrim from within the congregation
  • Encourage the congregation’s shomrim and chevrah kadishah members to attend the annual Chevrah Kadishah banquet and learning sessions (usually scheduled on the evening of Adar 7, in February or March)
  • Consult with the congregation’s spiritual leadership on shmirah-related matters
  • Answer congregants’ questions about Austin Shmirah or shmirah in general, or direct said questions to the Area Coordinator or to the congregation’s spiritual leadership

We recommend working closely with your congregation’s spiritual leadership in all shmirah-related decision-making.

How do I become a Shmirah Coordinator for my congregation?

Wow, nobody’s ever asked us that before!

If your congregation is already a member of Austin Shmirah, reach out to your Lead Coordinator as follows:

  1. Click Coordinator List (in the Shomer’s Menu, accessible to registered members of Austin Shmirah).
  2. Search for the name of your congregation in the column labeled “For whom are you serving as a Shmirah Coordinator?” There may be several entries for your congregation.
  3. In the column labeled “Select your coordinator level,” your lead coordinator’s entry will be “Primary.” Get your congregation’s Primary Shmirah Coordinator’s permission to serve as Shmirah Coordinator. If your congregation doesn’t yet have a Shmirah Coordinator, get the permission of your spiritual leader.
  4. Then click Join the Chevrah Kadishah Community (Main Menu). Under Become a Shmirah Coordinator, click Register. Fill out the form and click Process Subscription.
  5. Notify the Area Coordinator so that your new account can be activated: Click Contact Us (Main Menu), click on the name of the Area Coordinator, and send an email.

If your congregation is not yet part of Austin Shmirah, contact the Area Coordinator (Main Menu->Contact Us) for help getting started.

What is the role of the Area Coordinator?

The Area Coordinator handles action items that concern the entire Austin Shmirah community. The activities of the current Area Coordinator include the following.

  • Support all Congregational Coordinators. The Area Coordinator trains, supports, advises, and cheerleads for the shmirah coordinators of all member congregations, but does not schedule shomrim for them. Much of the “training” can now be accomplished simply by reading the content in the Information and Instructions section in the Coordinator’s Menu. That said, the Area Coordinator is just a phone call or text away for any coordinator (or shomer) who needs additional information or just a one-on-one, back-and-forth conversation
  • Communicate with the webmaster on website design, development, and troubleshooting
  • Engage in city-wide recruitment of new shomrim. Very often, all that’s needed to spark interest in shmirah is facetime with someone who’s passionate about it and presents it as an engaging, accessible mitzvah. By speaking at different congregations and community events, the Area Coordinator can raise awareness of the existence and benefits of Austin Shmirah, inspire new individuals to volunteer as shomrim, and give well-established, active participants a fresh appreciation of the value of their service. The Area Coordinator also supports Congregational Coordinators in recruiting shomrim on their own
  • Activate profiles of new members (both shomrim and Congregational Coordinators) and delete those of former members
  • Support congregations joining Austin Shmirah. The Area Coordinator can invite non-member congregations to become a part of the Austin Shmirah network, or suggest ways for established member congregations to become more active. Currently all Austin-area congregations participate in Austin Shmirah
  • Educate the general community. The Area Coordinator can help introduce our non-Jewish friends, neighbors, and colleagues to Jewish perspectives on end-of-life concerns. Participating on interfaith panels and presenting at conferences of funeral directors or hospice workers are two venues for sharing with the larger community
  • Prepare and distribute annual reports. The Area Coordinator writes a yearly report informing Austin Shmirah members of the total number of shomrim in the group (broken down by congregation of affiliation); number of shifts posted/filled by each congregation and its members during the year; congregations that joined during the year; and more. Informing shomrim of what they’ve collectively accomplished throughout the year gives them a sense of pride, reminds them that many others in our community do similar mitzvot behind the scenes, and inspires them to continue serving
  • Organize the Annual Chevrah Kadishah Banquet and study session. It’s traditional for chevrei kadishah (Jewish burial societies) to gather once a year for a festive meal and learning opportunity. The traditional date is Adar 7, which is said to be the yorzeit (anniversary of death) of Moses. The Austin banquet is attended by taharah caregivers, shomrim, rabbis, cantors, and Jewish funeral directors. Spouses and life partners are invited. The banquet has become a joyful opportunity for people who typically serve in near-isolation to meet, greet, eat, and learn from one another
    • Sometimes our banquet is a dairy/veggie pot-luck and sometimes it’s a catered event
    • Our educational presentations have been made by shomrim, taharah caregivers, clergy, a funeral director, a chaplain, and an end-of-life doula
    • Presentations have encompassed an enormous range of topics: 
      • traditional Jewish views of the soul’s journey after death
      • care of transgender deceased
      • the ethics of scientific exhibits using actual human bodies
      • mourning in the digital age
      • death rituals from around the world (slide presentation by a world-traveling anthropologist)
      • the Chevrah Kadishah in Jewish art
      • Victorian death and mourning rituals (presented by a shomeret who collected Victorian death-related artifacts)
      • being the child of a parent who died by suicide

If this list of action items seems intimidating, keep in mind that the majority of them are discretionary, not required. They can be done at one’s leisure, eliminated, or organically replaced with activities that come more naturally to whoever steps into the role of the Austin Shmirah Area Coordinator in the future.

Helpful Traits of an Area Coordinator

Certain personality traits can serve an Area Coordinator well. Some that have been assets to the current Area Coordinator are listed below.

  • Expects to live in the community for an extended period of time
  • Passionate about serving Jewish deceased in both spiritual and ritual terms
  • Willing and able to interface respectfully with people from across the entire Jewish community, from Orthodox to Reform/Reconstructionist and the unaffiliated
  • Comfortable allowing each congregation to make its own rules for caring for its deceased, and allowing each shomer to make their own decisions on how and when to serve
  • Computer literate
  • Organized
  • Enjoys tinkering with new ways to enhance and/or streamline the different elements of a system like this one
  • … And let’s just admit it: It doesn’t hurt to have a touch of OCD

Area Coordinators in Training

We who serve the final needs of the deceased are perhaps more aware than most that, at some unknowable time, each of us will someday be on the other side of this mitzvah. Austin Shmirah has two trusted individuals in training who can step into the role of Area Coordinator in the event that a replacement is suddenly needed. If and when that happens, one or both will either take the role on permanently or find a suitable person to lead the organization in the future. If you’d like to be considered for the role of future Austin Shmirah Area Coordinator, please contact the current Area Coordinator (Main Menu->Contact Us).

How is Austin Shmirah responding to the coronavirus?

  • As in all matters, each congregation makes its own decisions about how to conduct shmirah during the pandemic
  • Every shomer has the right to make their own decisions regarding health and safety at this unprecedented time and always, and every congregation respects that right. If you are not comfortable with what a particular congregation requests of its shomrim during the pandemic, there is no need to serve at this time. Congregations accept that one casualty of the coronavirus may be that more shifts will go unfilled
  • Many funeral homes are restricting entrance into the buildings. These restrictions are expected to change as the pandemic situation evolves
  • The shift confirmation emails now include a link to online reading and listening materials that shomrim can tap into during their shifts. This is an especially good resource to have when we can’t enter the funeral homes and make use of their book collections
  • Congregations are using different strategies to deal with shmirah during the coronavirus. The coordinator’s initial “Shomrim Needed” email should specify what is expected. Strategies include:
    • Shmirah at Home: When the shift starts, the shomer on duty finds a quiet place at home to read, meditate, or pray
      • To accommodate this new practice, we’ve added a “Shmirah at Home” option to the Signup Calendar dropdown menu used for taking shifts. If your coordinator’s email specifies “Shmirah at Home” as the signup calendar, select that option on the calendar page. That will take you to the correct list of shifts. To avoid confusion, coordinators are advised not even to mention the actual funeral home caring for the deceased in the signup instructions
      • One advantage of the Shmirah at Home contingency plan is that a single shomer can serve multiple deceased in the care of different funeral homes at the same time. Other advantages are that dedicated shomrim who’ve relocated out of the Austin area can participate from a distance; and those who are hesitant to drive at night can now take overnight shifts
    • Serving from the funeral home parking lot: The shomer drives to the funeral home and performs shimrah in their car, using their own reading materials
    • Some congregations may make special arrangements with a funeral home to allow shomrim to enter the building at certain times of the day or night
    • Some congregations may choose to suspend shmirah altogether until the danger of the pandemic has passed

End of Faq

To learn more about Jewish end-of-life practices, visit https://www.jewish-funerals.org.

For support in creating a system based on the Austin Shmirah model in your own community, contact the Area Coordinator (Main Menu->Contact Us).

Having technical problems or need to report something about the website? Please contact the Site Administrator (Main Menu->Contact Us).

{accordionfaq faqid=accordion1 faqclass="flickfaq defaulticon headerbackground headerborder contentbackground contentborder round5" active=item1}


============================================================

Shomer Information and Instructions


Below, you can find answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) as well as instructions on using the Shomer's portion of the website.

Please don’t be intimidated by the length and level of detail of some of the instructions. We’ve intentionally spelled out every single step so that even a newly minted shomer with minimal computer skills can do everything they need (or want) to do on their own. If you still feel overwhelmed and want help, contact Gail Tosto (Shomer’s Menu-> Coordinator List) and she’ll walk you through any action you want to take. Gail is not available on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

We suggest you start with the most essential FAQ: “How do I take a shift?” Once you’re comfortable with that step, explore other FAQs and instructions at your own pace. 

I’ve registered as a shomer. What happens now?

  • You may receive “Shomrim Needed” notifications only on rare occasions, and it may be difficult to remember the names of all the coordinators of all the congregations you partner with. To help you recognize the sources of these incoming messages, please take the following steps now:
    • Add a contact to your email/phone directory with the name “Austin Shmirah,” the phone number 855-869-9001 (from which "Shomrim Needed" text messages are sent), and the URL http://ck.jewish-funerals.org/austin
    • Click Coordinator List (Shomer's Menu). Create an email/phone contact for each of the coordinators at each of the congregation(s) you’ve chosen to partner with
  • Explore this website, especially the FAQs on the Home page and in Information and Instructions (Shomer’s Menu). They contain a wealth of information about all aspects of Austin Shmirah
  • When shomrim are needed by a congregation with which you partner, its coordinator will send you an e-mail and possibly a text message with details and instructions

How do I take a shift?

Minimalist Instructions

  1. Click Take a Shift (Shomer’s Menu).
  2. Read and carry out Step One and Step Two above the table, as well as in the blue panel on the next page.
  3. If your last action was not clicking “Submit,” you didn’t take a shift. Now you must read the comprehensive instructions below. (Think of it as a consequence, not a punishment.)

You will receive a confirmation email after successfully signing up for each shift.

You will receive a reminder email two hours before your shift, unless it starts less than two hours after you signed up.

Comprehensive Instructions

Until you’re familiar with the shift-taking process, please follow the steps below exactly. Although they may not seem important to you, they are essential for everything to work properly behind the scenes. 

  1. In the Shomer’s Menu, click Take a Shift. Everything you need to know to choose a shift is on this page.
  2. Read and follow Step One: Look at the second and third columns in the row for your deceased to know when shmirah begins and ends. You must select an open (blue) shift between these points in time.
  3. Read and follow Step Two: Click on the link in the fourth column, then read the instructions on the next page (signup page).
  4. In the monthly calendar: Select the date on which you wish to serve.
  5. In the list of shifts that now appears, pick a blue shift. All available shifts are in blue. All pink shifts are unavailable, either because they’ve been taken or because they are in the past. If there are no blue shifts on the date you’re looking at, you may try another date or choose not to serve this time around.
  6. Click Reserve Shift (bottom) and wait for the Shift Reservation Form to appear.
  7. Optional: Leave a note for the coordinator.
  8. Click Submit.

Optional follow-up:

  • To take a second shift, repeat the process starting at step 1. Shifts can only be taken one at a time
  • For a record of your shifts, click My Shift History (Shomer’s Menu), then “Other Information” or the icon in the Shift Details column. You may cancel your shift by clicking the Cancel Shift symbol. Please be judicious – cancel only if you took a shift you didn’t intend, or in the case of an unavoidable emergency

You will receive a confirmation email after successfully signing up for each shift.


You will receive a reminder email two hours before your shift, unless your shift starts less than two hours after you signed up.

What if I have trouble signing up for a shift?

We can help! Call the on-duty Congregational Shmirah Coordinator or Area Coordinator Gail Tosto (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List). Gail is not available on Shabbat and Jewish holidays; each Congregational Coordinator makes their own choices about when and how to be available.

What should I do during my shift?

First let’s cover the practical aspects of serving your shift.

  • Bring your cell phone and keep the ringer on. Some coordinators send their shomrim a list of all who are serving. Having your phone handy can save headaches if you need to contact the shomer serving right before or after you, or vice versa
  • Please arrive at the funeral home at or before your appointed start time
  • You are not responsible for staying after your shift is over. If you’re not relieved on time, please try calling your relief person or coordinator if possible
  • If you’re the only one in the building, be sure to secure it properly before you leave. See “How does parking/entering funeral homes after office hours work?” (Shomer's Menu) for details
  • If your shift starts after office hours, see “How does parking/entering funeral homes after office hours work?” (Shomer’s Menu) and make sure the coordinator gives you the code to enter the building
  • Participating funeral homes provide a comfortable area for serving your shift. Some have afghans available just for shomrim, which can come in handy on chilly nights
  • You may sit in the same room as the deceased or, if you prefer, outside the room
  • If the body has not yet had a taharah (ritual washing and dressing), the room will be empty. Do not be alarmed by this; the deceased is on the premises, the mitzvah is valid, and you are indeed accompanying the deceased
  • You may contact the coordinator at any time if you have any concerns during your shift

And now for the more meaningful side of shmirah:

  • The primary roles of the shomer are to protect the body of the deceased (no longer a significant practical concern in modern times) and to accompany and comfort a newly deceased person as the body and soul end their lifelong partnership and transition separately out of familiar territory into whatever comes next
  • Some congregations specify how they wish shomrim to engage during their shifts. For details, see the Home page FAQ “How do congregations participate?”
  • It’s traditional to read from the Book of Psalms, the Book of Job, or other appropriate Jewish texts. The funeral homes we work with keep an assortment of appropriate reading materials on hand. You can find online reading materials by clicking on the link in the confirmation email you receive after taking a shift: https://www.jewish-funerals.org/virtual-shmirah-box/
  • Some shomrim sing or play an instrument; during business hours, please get the staff’s permission first
  • Many shomrim meditate, talk to the deceased, or simply keep a mindful presence with the deceased
  • Some shomrim tune in to their intuitions and “listen” to the deceased. If you sense that the individual you’re accompanying would be comforted by a less traditional approach, or if you happen to know what kinds of things were meaningful to them, do whatever seems right (within reason) to honor them and help them on their way
  • The funeral home may host a wake, funeral, or memorial service for another deceased during your shift. These events can sometimes get pretty loud! It’s quite appropriate for the funeral home to allow mourners to express themselves freely. If you find it distracting, one option is to ask a staff member if you can move to a quieter area for the duration. Another option is to think of yourself as supporting and comforting not only our Jewish deceased, but also the deceased (and their mourners) from another tradition. You can do this by giving their need to express themselves priority over your need to concentrate

No matter how you spend your shmirah shift, the most important point is to be mindful and respectful of the person for whom you are present. It may help to keep in mind that your care and good wishes are among the very last things this person will need from anybody. We shomrim are there to make this transition time special for the deceased, more so than for ourselves.

How do I cancel a shift?

There are several ways:

  • Click on the cancellation link in the confirmation email
  • Log in to the website and click on My Shift History (Shomer's Menu). Locate the shift you want to cancel, and click the red icon under the "Cancel Shift" column
  • As a last resort, ask a coordinator to do it for you. Likely, they'll offer to walk you through it so you can do it yourself whenever you need to

Please make necessary cancellations as promptly as possible. Please cancel only if you took the wrong shift (then sign up again for the one you intended) or in the case of an unavoidable emergency.

How do I park at/enter the funeral home after office hours?

The funeral homes that care for our deceased extend a great privilege to us in allowing us access after office hours. It’s of utmost importance not to compromise their security or your personal safety.

Some funeral homes have night staff and cleaning crews that work after hours. Staff may be called away at any time, or may not be within earshot of the telephone. They are not responsible for letting us in and out.

For all funeral homes, make sure the coordinator gave you the code to the door before your shift starts.

Austin Natural Funerals (2206 West Anderson Lane)

  • Park behind the building or in the small lot in front of the building (be careful going over the curb in the front parking lot!)
  • When you arrive, call the shomer you’re relieving or ring the bell
  • If no one answers, open the lock box (on the front door) using the code given to you by the coordinator. Press down on the metal knob and open the box like a clam
  • Unlock the door, then place the key and the entire string back in the lock box
  • Most Important: Scramble the Code!!!
  • Enter the building and lock behind you using the key you’ll find in the inside lock
  • When you leave, if no one is in the building, unlock the lock box, lock the door, place the key and entire string back in the box, and scramble the code

Cook Walden (6100 North Lamar)

  • Park in the back parking lot on the south side of the building (toward downtown)
  • Walking to the right of the garage door and adjacent coded door, follow the wall until you come to a recessed door
  • Enter the code given to you by the coordinator, enter the building
  • Walk forward until you reach the sitting area
  • Contact the shomer on duty (or the coordinator) if you have any trouble entering the building or finding the sitting area
  • To exit, leave through the same door you entered

Weed-Corley-Fish (3125 North Lamar)

  • Park on 32nd Street for easy access to the north-facing side entrance (facing 32nd Street)
  • Enter the code given to you by the coordinator, enter the building
  • Walk forward until you reach the sitting area
  • Contact the shomer on duty (or the coordinator) if you have any trouble entering the building or finding the sitting area
  • To exit, leave through the same door you entered

How can I contact a Congregational Coordinator?

Shomer’s Menu->Coordinator List provides the names, contact info, affiliation, and level (primary coordinator, first backup, second backup, etc.) of each Austin Shmirah coordinator, so that you can contact any one of them if you wish.

What does it mean to be “on call?”

Shmirah is an unpredictable mitzvah! To reduce the element of surprise, you have the option of being “on call” for a particular shift whenever it’s needed.

It’s important to understand that the shift is not reserved for the on-call shomer; anyone can take it. Rather, the on-call shomer’s time is reserved for the shift in the event that it should materialize. It’s also important to know that the on-call shomer must sign up on the website as usual.

Being on call is optional, but here’s why we encourage you to consider it if you’re predictably available at a time when you’re typically willing to serve.

  • For busy shmirah coordinators, having many shomrim on call at a wide range of times greatly streamlines the task of filling all shifts. The coordinator knows exactly whom to call first on any given day of the week
  • For the shomer, being on call has a psychological advantage: Instead of unexpectedly having to add an urgent obligation to your schedule, you’ll feel like you’ve been let off the hook when your shift ends up not materializing (that is, most of the time)

How to put yourself "on call" for the shift of your choice

  • In the Shomer’s Menu, click Edit My Profile, then scroll down to the “On-Call Option” section
  • Choose the day of the week you’re willing to be on call. Then, in the menus that pop up, select a shift for that day and how frequently you’re willing to serve it. You can choose any frequency from once a week to once a month
  • Consider adding your “on-call” shift to your online calendar and set it up to send you a reminder. Each time your shift approaches, you can check your email messages to see if a need has arisen
  • If your shift comes and goes without a notification, you’re off the hook! If you do receive a notification that shomrim are needed, sign up on the website as usual. If your shift has already been taken by another shomer, you may either take any open shift or just sit it out this time

How do I use the My Shift History menu selection?

This page provides a record of all the shifts you’ve reserved and haven’t canceled.

Note: The “Signup Date/Time” column displays the date/time when you took the shift, not the date/time the shift actually needs to be served. To view the date/time of the shift itself, as well as other pertinent information, click “Other Information” below the entry, or click on the icon in the “Shift Details” column.

  • To cancel a shift you cannot serve, click the red icon in the “Cancel Shift” column. This will re-open the shift so another shomer can take it. You and the coordinator will both receive cancellation notification emails. Please be judicious when canceling shifts. Cancel only if you took the wrong shift (then sign up again for the shift you intended) or if you have an unavoidable emergency
  • To remove past shifts that you no longer wish to view, click the red icon in the “Cancel Shift” column. You and the coordinator will both receive notifications of cancellation

How do I update/edit my profile data?

In the Shomer’s Menu, click Edit My Profile. Scroll down the page, entering any changes you wish to make. Then click Update.

Why isn’t the shift-taking process more streamlined?

In some respects, we’ve managed to simplify the shift-taking process quite a bit since we rolled out the website! Shomrim no longer need to remember and select the correct congregation and shift calendar/funeral home for each deceased. Clicking on the name of the deceased now connects with all that information automatically.

However, shomrim must still notice when each shmirah service begins and ends, and must then select a shift between those two points in time. To eliminate this burden would require a custom-designed website far beyond our current budget. Fortunately, the first and last shifts are clearly stated in both the coordinator’s “Shomrim Needed” email and on the “Take a Shift” page. Even better, it’s now the only information the shomer must commit to very-short-term memory in order to take a needed shift (blue, not pink) on the signup page.

Still, there’s no doubt that it would be better to build the shmirah signup process entirely around the deceased. And with a budget of $10,000 or so, we can build a website incorporating that improvement and many others! If you’d like to help us get closer to that goal, please choose “Last Responder Scheduler” at https://events.jewish-funerals.org/donations-to-kavod-and-gamliel/

How can I make life easier for the shmirah coordinators?

The tasks of a Congregational Shmirah Coordinator have some built-in challenges. Coordinators are typically on duty round the clock, six days a week. Whenever there is a death in the community, your friendly shmirah coordinator immediately turns their attention to scheduling shifts, “babysits” the signup calendar, and makes cold calls until every shift is filled. Even with today’s high-tech tools, it can take hours to fill all shifts, always on very short notice. Here are some tips to help you lighten the load for your shmirah coordinator.

  • Sign up for a shift ASAP. The faster the shifts are filled, the less pressure the coordinator feels and the sooner they can get back to other pursuits
  • Take a fast-approaching shift. If you’re equally able to take a shift within an hour or a shift tomorrow, choosing the hour-away shift is particularly helpful
  • It’s very helpful to take a “hard-to-fill” shift, typically late at night. Few people can volunteer for these shifts on a regular basis, and they risk burnout when they take them over and over. If you can do a late-night shift just once in a while, it will make a great difference to both the “overnight regulars” and the coordinator
  • Consider putting yourself “on call” for a particular shift. See the FAQ "What does it mean to be 'on call?'"
  • If you’re able, sign up for your shift yourself, following the instructions in the coordinator’s email (and also available in the Shomer’s Menu->Information and Instructions->"How do I take a shift?"). If you do need help, try calling the coordinator rather than send an email. With a phone call, the coordinator can either teach you how to sign up yourself or do it for you with a shift that’s available in real time
  • Keep phone calls short. If you’re not available, there’s no need to explain why. You can simply say, “Sorry, I can’t do it this time,” and let the coordinator move on to someone who might be available. Please avoid questions about how the deceased passed away, when and where the funeral is, which family members are coming from out of town, and so forth. The shmirah coordinator usually doesn’t have this information and is not authorized to speak for the family
  • Do not phone the coordinator to say you can’t serve. Phone calls announcing each person’s unavailability tie up the coordinator’s line and make it harder to reach people who are available. If you’d like to inform the coordinator why you’re unavailable, please do so by text or e-mail
  • Do not e-mail the coordinator asking which shifts are available/which shift you should take. Shift availability may change during the email exchange as people sign up, and the coordinator hopes to fill all shifts. To find out if the coordinator has a preference, call on the phone so you can choose a shift together in real time
  • “Playing Chicken”: Some people like to wait and see if a particular shift gets filled, then sign up if and only if no one else takes it by a certain time. This is a fine thing to do. Just let the coordinator in on the game! Text or email the coordinator that you’re committed to take Shift X by Time Y if no one else does. The shift will remain open for others to (hopefully) take, but the coordinator can rest easy knowing it will definitely be filled one way or another.

End of FAQ

{accordionfaq faqid=accordion1 faqclass="flickfaq defaulticon headerbackground headerborder contentbackground contentborder round5" active=item1}

============================================================

Bare-Bones Instructions


Here are the bare minimum instructions for your three most urgent tasks, with no explanations or additional info. Do not second-guess them! For a fuller understanding, read the relevant FAQ(s), which are referenced for each task and can be found in the Coordinators’ Information and Instructions (unless otherwise specified). Only after reading the complete FAQ(s), call Area Coordinator Gail Tosto for additional help (Shomer’s Menu->Coordinator List).

How to post a link to your shmirah calendar and contact shomrim

(4 steps)

Step 1: Create (and later delete) an entry for your deceased:

  1. Select Create a Link (Coordinator’s Menu). Make your selections from the drop-down menus, then copy the URL that appears in the last step (control-A, control-C).
  2. Click Take a Shift (Shomer's Menu). In the gear above the chart, select Edit.
  3. In the first empty row, fill in the columns as follows:
    • Column 1 (We Render Kavod …): Name of deceased
    • Columns 2 and 3 (both under Choose a BLUE shift …): Day, date, and start time/end times of your first shift (column 2) and last shift (column 3). Specify AM or PM!
    • Column 4 (Link to signup calendar): Place your cursor in the row for your deceased
      • In the toolbar above the chart, click on the leftmost icon, “Insert/Edit Link”
      • Paste your URL from step 1 into the "URL" text box
      • In the “Text to Display” box, write "Take a Shift" or a similar message
      • Click "Ok"
    • Column 5 (Other Info): Include your contact info and congregation, your signup calendar, and any other information for your shomrim
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: Scroll down and click “I’m not a robot,” then Save or Cancel. 

 To remove an entry after your shmirah is completed:

  1. Click Take a Shift (Shomer's Menu). In the gear above the chart, select Edit.
  2. Place the cursor in your row and delete all the text in that row.
  3. Important: Scroll down and click “I’m not a robot,” then Save.

Relevant FAQs for Step 1:

  • How do I start a new shmirah?
  • How do I choose a signup calendar?
  • How do I make/delete an entry for my deceased?

Step 2: Email your entire team of shomrim.

  1. Click Send a Notification (Coordinator’s Menu). Select your own “Shomrim Needed” or “Baruch Dayan HeEmet” template.
    • If you haven’t yet created your template, click Send a Notification again, then click New (top of page). Personalize the text in the email panel (“HTML version”) with your own information and congregation. Click Save
  2. Edit the Subject line as you wish.
  3. In the line beginning “Attachments,” select Lists. Select only your own congregation’s mailing list.
  4. In the Filters dropdown menu, select “Select a Filter Type.”
  5. Edit the email text as you wish, adding info for your deceased, your congregation, and yourself.
  6. Click Preview/Send. To make additional changes, click Edit.
  7. Click Send, then click Send again on the next page. If there’s a message saying it will go to 0 users, click “No, send to all users.”

Relevant FAQs for Step 2:

  • How do I send an email to all my shomrim?
  • How do I create/delete a reusable email template?
  • How do I edit my templates?

Step 3: Send a “Shomrim Needed” text message.

  1. Click Send a Text (Coordinator's Menu). Select your “Shomrim Needed” template. If you don’t yet have one, see the short FAQ “How do I create/delete a reusable text message template?” (Coordinator’s Menu, Information and Instructions).
  2. If you’re happy with the message in the “phone,” skip to step 3. If not, copy it, click New, and paste it into the “phone” of the new message. Edit the message as you wish.
  3. From top to bottom of the page:
    • Subject Line: add subject of your choice
    • Category: Death Notification
    • Sender Profile: Shomrim
    • Insert Automatic Content From: Community Management Extension
    • On the next line, select "Insert content”
  4. Select Preview/Send.
  5. Parameters section: Select “One Time Only.” Do not click Send yet! Instead, select Send Now.
  6. “Filter Your Receivers Based on Your”: select Community Management Extension.
  7. On the next line, select AcySMS Groups. From the pop-up list, choose your own congregation.
  8. Now, in the Parameters box above, click Send. Click Send again.

Relevant FAQs for Step 3:

  • How do I send a text message to all my shomrim?
  • How do I create/delete a reusable text message template?
  • How do I edit my templates?

 Step 4: Contact people who are most likely to serve fast-approaching/hard-to-fill shifts.

  1. To reach a particular shomer, click Shomrim List (Coordinator’s menu) and search for their name.
  2. To find shomrim who are “on call” for certain shift(s):
    • Click Shomrim List (Coordinator’s Menu). Click Control-F and type the day of the week of the shift(s) you want to fill
    • Skim the last column. When that day appears, cross-check with column 5. If the person serves through your congregation, click on their name
    • In the person’s profile, scroll down to the “On Call” section. If the day, shift, and frequency match a shift you need to fill, contact that person
  3. To filter for those who typically serve at a certain time: Click Files (Coordinator's Menu). Download the “Shomrim” file. Read the Instructions page and then manipulate the data on the Shomrim page.

Relevant FAQs for Step 4:

  • How can I contact an individual shomer?
  • How do I view/contact a subset of shomrim?
  • How do phone calls fit into the shift-filling process?
  • How can I find out who’s on call for a shift I need to fill?

How to create a chronological schedule of shifts

  1. Click Manage Shifts (Coordinator's Menu). Click “Export All Shifts.” An Excel sheet will download.
  2. Click Files (Coordinator’s Menu) and download shifts.xlsx.
  3. To combine these files, follow the instructions in shifts.xlsx. You’ll get a list of all shomrim serving during the time frame you specified.

To share this information with shomrim/funeral directors:

  1. Copy the rows and columns of the relevant shifts (dates, times, names, phone numbers, email addresses) and paste into a new Word file, creating a table.
  2. Cut and paste the email addresses into the BCC line of an email from your personal account. Address it to yourself and/or the funeral director.
  3. Add any info you want to the Word file and delete the email address column (for privacy). Save the file.
  4. Attach the Word file to the email and send.

Relevant FAQ:

  • How can I create a written schedule for a shmirah?

Special considerations after business hours

  1. During office hours, inform the funeral staff that people will be coming in and out of the building overnight.
  2. Ask funeral staff for the code to the lock box or coded door.
  3. Email the following ONLY to the shomrim serving after business hours:
    • From the FAQ “How do I park at/enter the funeral home after office hours?” (Shomer’s Menu->Information and Instructions), copy the section for your funeral home and paste it into an email from your own email account
    • Be sure to mention the lock box code or door code
    • For privacy, send it to yourself and BCC the overnight shomrim. For easy access to their email addresses, see “How to create a chronological schedule of shifts,” above

Relevant FAQs:

  • How does shmirah work after business hours?
  • How do I park at/enter the funeral home after office hours? (Shomer’s Menu-> Information and Instructions)
  • How can I create a written schedule for a shmirah?

End FAQ

  1. {accordionfaq faqid=accordion1 faqclass="flickfaq defaulticon headerbackground headerborder contentbackground contentborder round5" active=item1}

============================================================

Coordinator Information and Instructions


Below, you can find answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) as well as instructions on using the Coordinator’s portion of the website. We suggest you become familiar with the Shomer’s Menu as well.

Please don’t be intimidated by the level of detail of some of the instructions. We’ve intentionally spelled out every single step so that even a newly minted coordinator with minimal computer skills can make full use of all Austin Shmirah resources on their own. Many of the FAQs address one-time or occasional situations; instructions that do apply to all shmirah-scheduling events will become second nature once you have just a little experience. 

If you feel overwhelmed and want help, contact Gail Tosto (Shomer’s Menu->Coordinator List) and she’ll walk you through any action you want to take. It’s best to call Gail during a practice run – don’t wait for an emergency to get familiar with all the resources available to help you sail through a shmirah event.

Start by creating two simple tools for your personal use. These are key to getting the most out of the Austin Shmirah system. Follow the instructions under the FAQs: 

  • How do I create/delete a reusable email template?
  • How do I create/delete a reusable text message template?

Next, do a shmirah event practice run based on the instructions found under the FAQs:

  • How do I start a new shmirah?
  • How do I make/delete an entry for my deceased?
  • How do I send an email to all my shomrim?
  • [Do not actually do this step in your practice; just read the instructions:] How do I send a text message to all my shomrim?

Once you’ve gained some confidence carrying out these tasks, explore the rest of the FAQs and master more advanced skills at your own pace.

How do I start a new shmirah?

There are two required steps and two optional but highly recommended steps for arranging shmirah for the deceased of your congregation.

Step 1 (required): Enter the relevant information for your deceased on the website. For instructions, see the FAQ “How do I make/delete an entry for my deceased?” below.

Step 2 (required): Notify your entire team of shomrim by email. For instructions, the see FAQ “How do I send an email to all my shomrim?” below.

Step 3 (highly recommended): Follow up your email notification with a text message to those shomrim who agreed to receive them. These days people check and respond to text messages much more often and more quickly than to emails. For instructions, see the FAQ “How do I send a text message to all my shomrim?” below.

Step 4 (highly recommended): To fill fast-approaching shifts, contact individual shomrim by telephone. For instructions, see the FAQ “How do phone calls fit into the shift-filling process?” below.

How do I choose my signup calendar?

When you make a new entry for your deceased, you will create a link to one of five signup calendars. This ensures that your shomrim will use the same calendar and avoid double- or triple-booking the same shift(s) on multiple calendars.

  • Use the Austin Natural Funerals calendar if your deceased is/will be in the care of Austin Natural Funerals AND you want your shomrim to serve at that location
  • Use the Cook-Walden calendar if your deceased is/will be in the care of Cook-Walden Funeral Home AND you want your shomrim to serve at that location
  • Use the Weed-Corley-Fish calendar if your deceased is/will be in the care of Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Homes and Cremation Services AND you want your shomrim to serve at that location
  • Use the Shmirah at Home calendar if you want your shomrim to serve in their own homes rather than go to a funeral home (such as during a pandemic shutdown)
  • Use the Special Arrangements calendar in the following circumstances:
    • If the deceased is at a location (funeral home, private home, morgue, etc.) that does not have its own calendar AND you want shomrim to serve at that location
    • If the shmirah you’re arranging overlaps with another shmirah on the same calendar and you want to find your own shomrim for all or some of the shifts you’re sharing with the coordinator of another congregation: see also the FAQ “How do I share overlapping shifts with another coordinator?” (Coordinator’s Menu, Information and Instructions)

How do I make/delete an entry for my deceased?

To create an entry for a newly deceased:

  1. Select Create a Link (Coordinator’s Menu). Make your selections from the drop-down menus, then copy the URL that appears in the last step (control-A, control-C). You’ll create a link to this URL in step 6 below.
  2. Click Take a Shift (Shomer's Menu).
  3. Do not change or delete the first row of the table (blue-highlighted instructions), the wording of the title (“Take a Shift”), or the entries of other coordinators.
  4. In the gear above the chart, select Edit.
    • If the Edit selection is not available, another coordinator may be making an entry. If refreshing your screen doesn’t bring Edit back within a few minutes, try contacting any coordinator whose name appears in the chart and ask if they forgot to click Save or Cancel. Still no luck? Call or text Site Administrator Josef Zeevi (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List), who can usually resolve it quickly
  5. If the table contains an empty row, use it for your new entry. If you must create a new row, click anywhere in the bottom row and press the Tab key until a fresh row appears. 
  6. Following the instructions in the top row, fill in your own row below it as follows:
    • Column 1 (We Render Kavod …) : Name of deceased
    • Columns 2 and 3 (both under Choose a BLUE shift …) : Day, date, and start time/end times of your first shift (column 2) and last shift (column 3). Specify AM or PM!
      • Column 2: If you need to begin within two hours, write “Immediately”
      • Column 3: If funeral plans have not been finalized, write the latest possible date and time of the last shift. If shifts are later canceled, you can update this entry and/or tell those who took unneeded shifts not to serve
    • Column 4 (Link to signup calendar) : Place your cursor in this column, in the row for your deceased. Then:
      • In the toolbar above the chart, click on the leftmost icon, “Insert/Edit Link”
      • In the pop-up window, paste your URL (which you created in step 1) into the "URL" text box
      • In the “Text to Display” box, write "Take a Shift" or a similar message for the shomrim
      • Click "Ok." Column 4 now contains a link to your signup calendar, and your congregation’s coordinators will be notified when shifts are taken or canceled
    • Column 5 (Other Info): Provide your contact info; the name or initials of your congregation; the signup calendar that you’re using; and any other information you want your shomrim to have
  7. VERY IMPORTANT: Scroll down and click “I’m not a robot,” then Save or Cancel
  8. Make sure you completed step 6Otherwise no other coordinator can access this page.
  9. Do not click Versions. We don’t know what that does.

To delete an entry after your shmirah is completed:

Each coordinator should do their own “housekeeping” and remove past entries from the Take a Shift table. A record of who took each shift is accessible in Manage Shifts (Coordinator’s Menu).

  1. Click Take a Shift (Shomer's Menu). In the gear above the chart, select Edit.
  2. Place the cursor in your row and delete all the text in that row.
  3. Important: Scroll down and click “I’m not a robot,” then Save. The calendar can now be used by other coordinators.

How do I send an email to all my shomrim? 

Each congregation has a mailing list of all Austin Shmirah members who are willing to serve its deceased and meet its requirements, if any. These instructions are for contacting all your congregation’s shomrim as a group. To contact individual shomrim, see "How do I contact an individual shomer?" To contact a subgroup of your mailing list (for example, only those who will take a particular shift), see “How can I view/contact a subset of shomrim?”

If you have not yet created your own personal template, refer to the FAQ “How do I create/delete a reusable email template?” and then return to this page.

  1. Click Send a Notification (Coordinator’s Menu).
  2. From the list of Newsletters, select one of your own. If you have several, choose the one that most closely matches the message you wish to send. Scroll down to the email panel under “HTML Version.”

Option A: If you’re willing to permanently alter the notification you chose, you may now change the content of the email panel as you wish.

Option B: If you want to keep this notification intact, copy the text found in the email panel (including your signature). Then click Send a Notification (Coordinator’s Menu). At the top of the new page, click New. Scroll down, delete the default text in the email panel, paste in the copied message, and change the content as you wish.

  1. In the Newsletter Information section (toward the top of the page), change the Subject line as you wish. Examples: “Baruch Dayan HaEmet, [today’s date]”; “Shomrim Needed by [Name of Congregation]”; "Shomrim Needed for [Name of deceased].”
  2. In the section beginning Attachments, select Lists. Click on the box to the left of your own congregation’s mailing list. (COGA is Chabad of Greater Austin; all other abbreviations are more familiar.) We are on the honor system to use only our own congregation’s mailing list, and only for shmirah-related messages.
  3. At the top of the page, click Preview/Send. Make sure that:
    • the subject line is correct
    • your own congregation’s shomrim are the recipients
    • your email message is worded as you wish
    • the message bears your signature
  4. To make changes, click Edit (top right).
  5. Click Send, then click Send again on the next page. If a message appears saying it will go to 0 users, click “No, send to all users.”
  6. If your message is a “Shomrim Needed” message, send it separately to the Coordinators mailing list.
    • Click Send a Notification (Coordinator’s Menu)
    • Click on the Subject of the message you just sent to your shomrim. (You may want to wait until the “Cancel” button disappears before doing this)
    • In Lists, deselect your congregation’s mailing list and select “Coordinators”
    • At the top of the screen, click Preview/Send, then click Send
    • On the next page, click Send again. If a message appears saying it will go to 0 users, click “No, send to all users”

Your message will now be sent to all recipients in batches. On the Newsletter page, you may cancel delivery by clicking the Cancel button. Once the Cancel button disappears, your email has been sent to all recipients.

If the Cancel button doesn’t disappear within a reasonable amount of time (15 minutes per 300 recipients), contact Site Administrator Josef Zeevi (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List).

How do I send a text message to all my shomrim?

Sending a text as well as the required initial email helps you reach many shomrim faster. Texting comes at a small fee, so it’s best to send a single, brief message asking shomrim to check their email and/or go to the website for more information. All subsequent communications should be sent via email only.

  1. Click Send a Text (Coordinator's Menu).
  2. Select your personalized “Shomrim Needed” template. (If you don’t yet have one, see the FAQ “How do I create/delete a reusable text message template?”)
  3. If the message within the phone icon suits your current needs, skip to step 4. If you must change the text:
    • To change your template permanently, make the changes directly in this template
    • To keep the current template as is and create a new one, copy the message within the phone icon. Then click Send a Text, click New at the top of the page, and paste the copied text into the phone icon
  4. From top to bottom, fill out the form as follows. Most of this is already in place and just needs to be checked.
    • Subject Line: “Shomrim needed for [name of your congregation],” or subject of your choice
    • Category: Death Notification
    • Sender Profile: Shomrim
    • Insert Automatic Content From: Community Management Extension
    • On the next line, select "Insert content”
  5. At the top of the page, select Preview/Send.
  6. In the Parameters section: Select “One Time Only.” Do not click Send yet! Instead, select Send Now.
  7. Under “Filter Your Receivers Based on Your”: select Community Management Extension.
  8. On the next line, select AcySMS Groups.
  9. From the pop-up list, choose your own congregation. COGA = Chabad of Greater Austin; all other abbreviations are more familiar.
  10. Now, in the Parameters box above, click Send. A message will tell you how many texts will be sent.
  11. Click Send again.

How can I contact an individual shomer?

Click Shomrim List (Coordinator’s Menu). In the search box (top left), write the first and/or last name of the person you wish to contact, then click on the magnifying glass. All shomrim whose names contain the sequence of letters you typed will appear in a list, along with their contact info and other details. To view an individual’s full profile, click on their name.

To return to the complete Shomrim List, click on the X next to the magnifying glass to the right of the search box.

How can I view/contact a subset of shomrim?

The Send a Notification menu selection is an efficient way to reach all the shomrim who partner with your congregation. Likewise, the Shomrim List is handy for learning about and contacting an individual shomer. But there are times when you may want to reach out to a subset of your shomrim. Here are some examples:

  • When a much admired member of your congregation has passed away, many fellow congregants may want to take shifts and may even be upset if they don’t get one. You may want to contact your fellow congregants first and then reach out to your entire team if and only if any shifts are left unfilled
  • If you have just a few shifts to fill, you may want to send a follow-up email and/or make phone calls only to the subset of shomrim who serve at those times
  • If you’re organizing shmirah for a person who will be cremated, you are asked to contact only those willing to serve in those circumstances. (See the FAQ “How do I contact shomrim in case of a cremation?”)

The sortable shomrim.xlsx spreadsheet, downloadable from the Files menu selection (Coordinator's Menu), is our tool for viewing a selected subset of shomrim. With this spreadsheet, you can first filter all Austin Shmirah shomrim to view only those who partner with your own congregation, then filter again to view only those who take certain shifts; only members of your own congregation; only those who serve in cases of cremation; etc.

The spreadsheet consists of two pages (marked with tabs at the bottom of each sheet). The "Shomrim" page contains the usable data. Please read the "Instructions" page before using, and try doing a practice run before you actually need to find shomrim.

If you are unable to download or open the file, please reach out to Site Administrator Josef Zeevi (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List).

For one-on-one help using the spreadsheet after you’ve tried following the instructions, you may call, text, or email Larry Smith, who created the spreadsheet, or Area Coordinator Gail Tosto (both found in Shomer’s Menu->Coordinator List).

How do phone calls fit into the shift-filling process?

You will most likely need to make some phone calls to fill fast-approaching shifts, overnight shifts, or other hard-to-fill shifts.

Keep phone calls short. You may have to politely remind people that you don’t need a detailed explanation of why they aren’t available, nor do you know details about the death or funeral plans – or have the time to discuss them.

Please do not pressure anyone to take a shift if they say they’re unavailable.

The most efficient order of phone calls is to:

  1. Shomrim who serve through your congregation and are on call for the shifts you need (see the FAQ “How can I find out who's on call for a shift I need to fill?”)
  2. Shomrim who serve through your congregation and are generally available at the times you need
  3. Any shomer who serves through your congregation

How can I find out who’s on call for a shift I need to fill?

Shomrim have the option of being “on call” to take a particular shift on a particular day of the week, whenever it arises. This is very helpful in identifying the best people to call first for a given shift.

Shomrim have been informed that the shifts they’re on call for are not reserved for them. Any shomer can take any open shift. Rather, their time is reserved for the shift they’ve committed to. That said, coordinators should be gracious with shomrim who are occasionally unavailable for the shift they’ve committed to. 

To find shomrim who are on call for the shifts you need:

  1. In the Coordinator's Menu, click Shomrim List.
  2. Scroll down, looking for entries in the rightmost column (“I can be on call on this/these day(s)”). You can also click Control-F and type a day of the week in the search box.
  3. For each shomer listed as "on call" on the day you’re looking for, cross-check with column 5 (“Which of these [congregations] are you able and willing to serve?”).
  4. If the shomer serves through your congregation, click on the person’s name to access the complete profile.
  5. Scroll down to the three “On Call” items (day, shift, and frequency). If these match a shift you need to fill, contact that person.
  6. Repeat for each page of the Shomrim List.

How can I create a written schedule for a shmirah?

The Manage Shifts menu selection (Coordinator's Menu) keeps a record of shifts that have been filled. This list is organized by the time at which each shomer reserved their shift. It does not list the shifts themselves in chronological order and does not include unfilled shifts.

The shifts.xlsx spreadsheet, downloadable from the Files menu selection, is our tool for creating a chronological schedule of all shifts, filled and unfilled, for a shmirah in progress.

The shifts.xlsx spreadsheet allows you to view, save, email, and print the shifts you're currently managing, along with the names and contact info of those serving.

You can share this schedule with the funeral director, who can then place it in the sitting area, as well as with the shomrim, who can use it to contact each other directly if someone is running late. You can also keep the schedule as your own offline record of shmirah for the deceased of your congregation.

This spreadsheet consists of several pages (marked with tabs at the bottom of each sheet). Please read the instructions before using, and try doing a practice run before you actually need to create a shmirah schedule.

If you are unable to download or open the file, please reach out to Site Administrator Josef Zeevi (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List).

For extra help using the spreadsheet after you’ve tried following the instructions, you may call, text, or email Larry Smith, who created the spreadsheet, or Area Coordinator Gail Tosto (both found in Shomer’s Menu->Coordinator List).

How does shmirah work after business hours?

A few extra steps are necessary when your first shift starts after office hours, and to ensure the personal safety of the shomrim and the security of the property whenever you have overnight shifts.  

  • Inform the funeral director/staff that people will be coming in and out overnight. They’ll need to deactivate their alarm system and/or place a key into a lock box for shomrim to enter
  • Ask the funeral director for the code to the lock box or coded door
  • Before the overnight shifts start, email the following to the shomrim serving after business hours:
    • The code to the funeral home’s door or lock box. For security reasons, it’s best to share this only with the few shomrim who actually need it, rather than your entire team
    • Important funeral home information: Open the FAQ “How do I park at/enter the funeral home after office hours?” (Shomer’s Menu->Information and Instructions). Find the section on the funeral home to which your shomrim will be going. Copy its name, address, and all instructions for parking and entering, and paste this into the email to the overnight shomrim, along with the door code
    • Send the email to yourself, BCC’ing the overnight shomrim. For easy access to their email addresses, see the FAQ “How can I create a written schedule for a shmirah?” You may also contact Gail Tosto, Area Coordinator, for help with this step (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List)

How do I share overlapping shifts with another coordinator?

[Please see also “What is the etiquette for sharing shifts with another coordinator?" You may also contact Area Coordinator Gail Tosto to help you navigate this situation (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List). Please do not call Gail on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.]

We are extremely fortunate to have a community-wide network for pooling shomrim to serve all Jewish deceased. When several congregations have deceased at one or more funeral homes (or signup calendars) at the same time, coordinators should cooperate to fill all the overlapping shifts in ways that work for everyone involved. The best way to go about it will depend on the situation.

When your shifts overlap with those of another coordinator (as seen in the “Take a Shift” chart):

  1. Determine whether you’ll be sharing shomrim (at the same funeral home or in a "shmirah at home" situation) or competing for shomrim (at different funeral homes). This information should appear in the "Other Info" column on the “Take a Shift” chart.
  2. Determine whether both congregations involved are able to share all of their shomrim. Each congregation’s rules appear on the Home page under “How do congregations participate?”
  3. Contact the coordinator from the other congregation (henceforth, “your partner”) and tell them you have an overlap of shifts. Discuss how each of you wants to proceed.
  4. In all cases, both coordinators should copy Template #155 to notify all of their shomrim of the overlap. The messages in this template are worded to be appropriate for both coordinators to send out.
    • Notifying shomrim of the overlap helps the shifts fill faster. Many shomrim are highly motivated to do “two mitzvahs for the price of one” by serving two deceased at the same time. Similarly, when there’s a high demand for shomrim at several funeral homes, people are inspired to serve as well
    • The greater the overlap, the more worthwhile it is to notify all shomrim at both congregations
    • To access the template, click Send a Notification (Coordinator’s Menu). Find and open Template 155, “Universal Template: Overlapping Shifts”
  5. Scroll down to the email panel of Template 155 and copy the entire text.
    • If you’ve already sent out your “Shomrim Needed” message, re-click Send a Notification and then click New at the top of the page. Scroll down to the email panel and paste in the copied text
    • If you haven’t yet sent out your “Shomrim Needed” message, you can either copy and paste both templates into a single notification, or send first the “Shomrim Needed” message and then the “Overlapping Shifts” message separately
  6. Determine which of the messages in Template 155 applies to your situation. Delete all the other messages and all the blue-highlighted instructions. Personalize all yellow-highlighted areas.
    • Message 1: Multiple deceased on different signup calendars (i.e., at different funeral homes, or one with shmirah at a funeral home and the other receiving “shmirah at home”)
    • Message 2: Multiple deceased at the same funeral home (or being served through "shmirah at home"), congregations can share all shomrim
    • Message 3: Multiple deceased at the same funeral home (or both receiving "shmirah at home"), congregations cannot share all shomrim
  7. Finish preparing your notification as usual, then send it.
  8. If you’re able to use all of the shomrim of both congregations, continue to fill your shifts as usual.
  9. If you want to make sure all overlapping shifts are filled by at least one shomer who meets your congregation’s requirements, read “Double booking a shared shift” below.

Double-booking a shared shift:

Either coordinator may choose to recruit a second shomer for some or all of the overlapping shifts. Typically, you might do this if you’re not sure all of the other congregation’s shomrim meet your congregation’s requirements as well.

  1. Make an entry as usual for your deceased (Shomer's Menu->Create a Link, then Take a Shift). In column 5 (Other Info), add: “We have overlapping shifts with [initials of other congregation] – See next entry.”
  2. Below your first entry, make a second entry just for the overlapping shifts:
    • Select Create a Link (Coordinator’s Menu). Select your own congregation, the “Special Arrangements” calendar, and the start/end dates and times of only the overlapping shifts
    • Select Take a Shift (Coordinator’s Menu). Make a new entry as usual but in the second and third columns, state the first and last overlapping shifts
    • In the “Link to Signup Calendar” column, create a link: In the popup menu, copy the URL for the "Special Arrangements” calendar. In the “Text to Display” text box, write: “Select a shift only if you’re eligible to serve with [initials of your congregation]”
    • Remember to click “I am not a robot” and Save
  3. Once both entries for your deceased are listed, contact your shomrim using both:
    • Your usual “Shomrim Needed” template and
    • Template 155, Message 3
  4. If you haven’t already done so, inform your partner that you’ve set up a “Special Arrangements” signup calendar for the overlapping shifts. Ask them to send Template 155, Message 3 to all of their own shomrim.
  5. Keep track of the signups on both calendars. They’re listed on the “Manage Shifts” page (Coordinator’s Menu->Manage Shifts), starting with the most recent signup.
    • Whenever a shomer that you can use takes a shift on either calendar, sign yourself up for the same shift on the other calendar. This will keep other shomrim from double-booking it unnecessarily
    • Whenever a shomer you’re not willing to use signs up on the signup calendar both congregations are sharing, keep that shift open on your “Special Arrangements” calendar and try to fill it
    • When two shomrim take the same shift, one on each calendar, both shomrim should be notified of the double-booking to avoid surprises. Then decisions can be made as to whether both should serve, or only one
      • When possible, each shomer should be contacted by the coordinator of the congregation they serve through
      • If both shomrim are willing and able to serve both deceased, either one of them can be given the option (not the obligation) to not report for the shift. Do not cancel this person’s shift on the website, which would just open it back up for another double-booking
      • If only one shomer is both willing and able to serve both deceased, the other can be given the option to either serve alongside them, or not report for the shift. If they choose not to report, do not cancel this person’s shift on the website, which would just open it back up for another double-booking
    • If only one shomer has signed up, willing and able to serve only one of the deceased, they should serve the shift. The same shift should be left open on the other calendar in hopes of filling it with someone who can serve the other deceased

What is the etiquette for sharing shifts with another coordinator?

[For practical shift-sharing strategies, see “How do I share overlapping shifts with another coordinator?”  above. You may also contact Area Coordinator Gail Tosto (Shomer's Menu->Coordinator List) for help navigating this situation. Please do not call Gail on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.]

Mutual respect, sensitivity, and diplomacy are essential in all interactions between coordinators, and between coordinators and shomrim. This is especially important when the congregations that share overlapping shifts have different rules as to who may serve. Below are some guidelines on how you can support the coordinator with whom you’re partnering to fill the shared shifts [henceforth referred to as "your partner"] while faithfully serving the needs of your own deceased.                 

  • Once you notice that some of your shifts overlap with those of another coordinator (as seen in the “Take a Shift” chart), reach out to them as a courtesy. Determine whether the two of your will be teaming up to share shomrim at the same funeral home, or competing to fill shifts at different locations. If you’re sharing, this is the time to discuss whether you can share all shomrim and, if not, how the overlapping shifts should be filled
  • Avoid questions or debates about the reasons behind each congregation’s approach. Austin Shmirah thrives precisely by nonjudgmentally allowing each congregation to maintain full autonomy in ritual matters
  • In Template 155: “Universal Template: Overlapping Shifts” (see “How do I share overlapping shifts with another coordinator?” above), shomrim are asked to let the coordinator(s) know whether or not they’re both willing and able to serve both deceased. However, sharing this information is their choice, not a requirement. Please do not ask a shomer for this information – instead, try to double-book a second shomer for that shift if you feel the need
  • In communications with your shomrim, model an attitude of respect for the other congregation. A minority of people from across our community may voice strident opinions about one congregation or another. As shmirah coordinators, we should redirect this behavior rather than feed into it
  • When possible, avoid direct communication with shomrim who are not on your own mailing list. It’s preferable to ask your partner to convey any messages to them on your behalf
  • If your partner’s congregation has stricter rules than yours about who may serve as a shomer:
    • Please respond graciously and supportively to their additional needs. Like you, they’re doing their best to honor the wishes of their congregation, the deceased they’re caring for, and the grieving family
    • Be aware that your partner may opt to seek a second shomer to fill some shifts that have already been filled by your own team. When your partner does manage to double-book a shift this way, you can generally offer your own shomer the option – with no obligation – to be relieved of the shift
    • Any of your shomrim may freely fill any of the shifts for your deceased, including the ones shared by the other deceased. However, you may want to let your partner take the lead in filling the overlapping shifts. Alternatively, as a courtesy to your partner, you might consider prioritizing phone calls to shomrim who happen to meet their requirements as well as your own. All of this is entirely up to you
  • If your partner’s congregation is more lenient than yours:
    • Please avoid referring to the type of shomrim you need as “really Jewish” / “100% Jewish” / “had a halachic conversion.” These terms are open to interpretation and may cause offense as well as confusion. Terms like “shomrim who meet my congregation’s requirements” are well-defined, 100% objective, and much more diplomatic
    • Expect to do the bulk of the work to fill the overlapping shifts with shomrim that meet your requirements
    • If you have shomrim who are uncomfortable performing shmirah for the deceased of the other congregation, either ask them to take a non-overlapping shift or advise your partner to recruit their own shomer for that shift. You may also suggest that the shomer consult their rabbi for guidance on the appropriateness of including/excluding the other congregation’s deceased from the mitzvah

How do I contact shomrim in the case of a cremation?

Each Austin Shmirah member congregation sets its own policies on ritual matters, including cremation. However, since cremation is not a traditional Jewish practice, many shomrim choose not to serve deceased who will later be cremated.

Austin Shmirah strives to honor both the privacy of the family (by not announcing cremation plans in the “Shomrim Needed” email without their express permission) and the wishes of the shomrim (by contacting only those who are willing to serve in cases of cremation).

If your congregation allows cremation, please ask your spiritual leader to inform you whenever a family has requested both shmirah and cremation. When cremation is involved, follow the steps below to contact the appropriate shomrim.

  1. Make an entry as usual for your deceased (Coordinator's Menu->Create a Link, then Take a Shift).
  2. Do not send your email from the website. Instead, click Send a Notification (Coordinator's Menu), copy your own “Shomrim Needed” template, and paste it into an email from your personal email account.
  3. Read the FAQ "How can I view/contact a subset of shomrim?” 
  4. Following the instructions in the shomrim.xlsx spreadsheet that you’ve downloaded:
    • First filter for shomrim who serve through your own congregation: Click on cell F2, then on the arrow in the bottom left corner of cell G2. Select your congregation from the menu
    • In cell F2, click the filter arrow and deselect “(Blanks)”
    • Next, click on the filter arrow in cell T2 and select only “Yes” (willing to serve in cases of cremation). You now see only shomrim who serve through your congregation and also for those being cremated
    • Copy the email addresses from column C and paste them into the BCC line of the email you created in step 2
  5. Address the email to yourself. Optionally, you may CC the funeral director, your clergy, and/or other coordinators. Fill in the Subject line as you wish.
  6. Review your message and click Send.

How do I create/delete a reusable email template?

You can save yourself an enormous amount of time and tzuris, and you’ll avoid typos, if you create templates for messages that you anticipate sending over and over again (such as the “Shomrim Need” message) bearing your own name, congregation, and contact info.

To create your personal “Shomrim Needed” email template:

  1. Click Send a Notification (Coordinator's Menu).
  2. At the top of the page, click New. Fill out the form as follows:
    • Newsletter Information panel:
      • Subject: Change if you wish. Examples: “Shomrim Needed,” “Congregation XXX seeks shomrim,” etc.
      • Summary: Optional. Here you can write a description of your message for the archive
    • In the line beginning Attachments, select Lists. Click on the box for your own congregation. COGA is Chabad of Greater Austin; all other abbreviations are more familiar
    • Filters: In the dropdown menu, select "Select a filter type." Any filters present should disappear, so all your shomrim will be contacted
    • HTML Version: The most up-to-date “Shomrim Needed” universal template appears as the default message in the email panel (as well as in template ID 52, accessible by clicking Send a Notification). Personalize it by replacing the items in square brackets with your personal and congregational information. As long as all the essential information remains, you may add more information or change the wording to reflect your own personality and writing style
  3. Review your template, making sure that:
    • the subject line is as you wish;
    • your own congregation’s shomrim are selected as the recipients in both “Lists” and “AcyMailing List”;
    • the email message is worded as you wish; and
    • the message bears your signature.
  4. At the top of the page, click Save.

Your template now appears in the list on the Newsletter page, with its unique ID number and your name in the Sender Information and Creator columns.

To create other templates for your personal use:

In addition to the “Shomrim Needed” emails, you may anticipate sending other messages to your shomrim that don’t change much from one occasion to the next. Or, you may want to create a template containing just your name, affiliation, and contact info for use with all future brief or one-time-only emails.

  • To create a template from scratch, follow the instructions above, but delete the default text you find in the HTML version. Write your own message in its place
  • To create a template similar to an existing one:
    • Follow the instructions for creating your “Shomrim Needed” template, but start by opening the template on which you want to base your own new template
    • Do not make any changes to this template. Copy and paste the text from the email panel into a new template
    • Alter the Subject, recipients, and text in the email panel as you wish
    • Click Save at the top of the page

To delete a template: When you've accumulated templates that have outlived their usefulness, click the box to the left of the Subject column and click Delete at the top of the page.

How do I create/delete a reusable text message template?

More and more people check their text messages much more frequently than their emails. You can now reach more shomrim faster by sending a “Shomrim Needed” text along with the required initial email. Only those who opt to receive text messages (about 65% of Austin Shmirah members) will be reachable by text message.

To create a reusable template for your “Shomrim Needed” text message:

  1. Click Send a Text (Coordinator’s Menu).
  2. Click New at the top of the page. Under “Message,” fill in:
    • Subject: “Shomrim Needed by [name of your congregation]” or subject of your choice
    • Category: Select “Death Notification”
    • Sender Profile: Select “Shomrim”
  3. Scroll down to the phone icon. Paste in the following message, then personalize the italicized sections for your own use.

Do not hit reply. [Congregation’s initials] seeks shomrim. See my email for instructions or login to http://ck.jewish-funerals.org/austin. I'm at [your phone number], [your email address]

Text messages from the website are sent from our own area code 855 number, not your own. For this reason be sure to state “Do not reply" and provide your own phone number in the message.

The maximum character count is 160. If your email address is long, you may have to be creative in abbreviating the message elsewhere.

  1. At the top of the page, click Save. Your new template now appears in the list on the "Message" page, with yourself as Creator and its own unique ID number (far right column).

Only you, the creator, can view and access this template.

To delete a text message, click the box to the left of the Subject column and click Delete at the top of the page.

How do I edit my templates?

As you follow the instructions below, be careful not to edit the templates of other coordinators. Your own templates show your name in the Creator column. If you have no templates of your own, refer to “How do I create/delete a reusable email/text message template?” 

To edit an email or text message template:

  1. In the Coordinator’s Menu, click:
    • Send a Notification (for email templates)
    • Send a text (for text message templates)
  2. On the next page, find the template you wish to edit. Double-check to make sure your own name appears in the Creator column.
  3. Click the box to the left of the chosen template, then click Edit at the top of the page.
  4. Make the desired changes.
  5. Click Save at the top of the page.

Why is the shift in progress not available on the calendar?

Our software was designed for personal service providers such as hair stylists. (For details, see the FAQ “Why isn’t the shift-taking process more streamlined?” in Shomer's Menu->Information and Instructions.) The software treats our shifts as appointments. Since a salon customer can’t make a 10:00 AM appointment after 10:00 AM, the shift in progress is listed as unavailable, even if it’s only 10:01 AM. Therefore, shifts that are already in progress must be filled offline by verbal agreement.

If the shift in progress is almost over, you may want to just concentrate on filling the next shift as quickly as possible, before it too becomes unavailable on the website. If the shift in progress has just begun, you may want to ask shomrim to fill it by telephone; or include a note such as the following in your “Shomrim Needed” email:

"Our first shmirah shift, today (Tuesday) from 10:00 a.m. to noon, is no longer accessible on the website, but it can be filled by verbal agreement. If you can take this shift, please text or call me ASAP. Once the shift is filled, I’ll inform all who responded whether they need to serve or not."

Why are shomrim listed by first name in the Shomrim List?

We made this unusual choice assuming that in our casual community, most coordinators will address most shomrim by first name. When a coordinator is busy making a series of short, urgent, back-to-back phone calls, it’s all too easy to lose track of who’s on the other end of the line at a particular moment. Making the first name the most prominent item in each entry makes it easier to find it and greet each individual appropriately.

How can I help shmirah go smoothly for my shomrim?

  • Remain available by phone/text message throughout the shmirah. Make sure the shomrim who took shifts know how to contact you
  • Create a schedule of the shifts and share it with the shomrim and the funeral director
    • Each shomer receives a shift confirmation email from the website, and all your congregation’s coordinators are automatically notified when each shift has been filled. However, it’s useful to let everyone involved know who’s scheduled at what time, how to contact each other in an emergency, and which shifts have not been filled. This is especially important at night, when shomrim may need to let each other into the building (or lock up at the end of the shift when no relief person is coming)
    • The schedule can be emailed to the funeral director as well, to be placed in the sitting area for easy access
    • To create a schedule of shifts for a shmirah in progress:
      • Read the FAQ "How can I create a written schedule for a shmirah?"  
      • Follow the instructions in the downloadable shifts.xlxs spreadsheet and create your shmirah schedule
      • Copy the rows and columns of the relevant shifts, then paste them into a new Word file (creating a table) or Excel sheet
      • Now cut the column of email addresses and paste them into the BCC line of a new email from your personal account. (The website can’t cherry-pick recipients, so messages to a subset of your shomrim must be sent from your personal account.) Address the email to yourself and/or the funeral director
      • Name and save the Word or Excel file without including the email address column (for privacy). The file should contain the dates and times of the shifts, the names and phone numbers of the shomrim, and any other information you wish to add
      • Attach the Word or Excel file. Send the email
      • Optional: If the funeral director is a recipient and it’s after business hours, you may call the shomer whose shift is coming up next. Ask if they can print the schedule at home, take it with them to the funeral home, and place it in the sitting area
  • Keep the schedule you created (see previous bullet) handy until the shmirah is over, in case there’s any confusion about what time a shomer is serving
  • If your shomrim cannot serve in the building (such as during a pandemic), it’s a nice touch to ask the funeral director to send you a photograph of the deceased, the deceased’s casket, or, if the taharah (ritual washing) has not yet been completed, the door to the cold room. You can send these to the shomrim so that they can pull them up on a screen and feel more connected to the deceased. When you contact the funeral director with this request, be aware that they may or may not have time to comply
  • Housekeeping: Once your shmirah is completed, remove your entry from the chart
    • Click Take a Shift (Shomer's Menu)
    • Next to the gear (top right), click Edit
    • Delete your entire entry
    • Most important step:  Click “I’m not a robot” and Save so that other coordinators can use the chart after you

End FAQ

{accordionfaq faqid=accordion1 faqclass="flickfaq defaulticon headerbackground headerborder contentbackground contentborder round5" active=item1}

============================================================

Area Coordinator Instructions


Security first!

In order to protect the Shmirah community from bad actors, it's important to trust the folks registering. If you don’t personally know the individual whose profile you’re about to activate, consult the coordinator of their congregation to make sure they’re actually affiliated with and/or known to that congregation.

If the person is unaffiliated, reach out with a welcoming email or phone call, ask how they found out about Austin Shmirah, and follow up with any other questions that could help you develop a level of trust with that person.

How do I activate the profile of a new shomer?

When a new shomer joins Austin Shmirah, you should receive an email with the subject line “New registration for Join Austin Shmirah as a Shomer.” To activate the new profile, take these steps.

  1. From the “New registration” email, copy the name of the prospective shomer.
  2. Click Approve Shomrim (Area Coordinator’s Menu).
  3. Paste the individual’s name into the search box (top left) and press the Enter key on your keyboard.
  4. The non-activated profile will have an “unlocked” symbol to the left of the name. Click Activate.

How do I activate the profile of a new coordinator?

When you receive an email with the subject line “New registration for Become a Shmirah Coordinator,” consult the lead coordinator of the congregation in question to make sure the new person has been authorized to serve in this capacity. If the congregation currently has no coordinator, contact the rabbi or other leadership and make sure the person has been authorized to serve as its shmirah coordinator.

How to activate a new profile

  1. From the “New registration” email, copy the name of the individual who just registered.
  2. Click Approve Coordinators (Area Coordinator’s Menu).
  3. Paste the individual’s name into the search box (top left) and press the Enter key on your keyboard.
  4. The non-activated profile will have an “unlocked” symbol to the left of the name. Click Activate.

How do I add/delete a member to/from the texting lists?

Shomrim can opt-in to receive a text message along with the obligatory “Shomrim Needed” email. Only those who opt-in should be added to the texting lists of the congregations with which they partner. These additions to the mailing lists must be made manually.

The “New registration” email that you receive when a shomer or coordinator first registers will detail whether or not they wish to receive text messages.

You will also receive an “Updated Profile" email whenever a member changes their profile in any way. When you receive this notice, check to see if their current texting preference matches their presence/absence on the mailing list(s) of the congregation(s) they partner with. To do this, click Add to Texting Lists (Area Coordinator’s Menu) and search for their name in the lists for All Last Responders and each congregation that they partner with. If you need to update the mailing list according to their current preference, follow the instructions below.

To add a member to the texting list(s):

  1. To add a shomer to the texting list, click Shomrim List (Coordinator’s Menu). To add a coordinator (at their request – coordinators don’t usually need to be on the texting lists), click Coordinator List (Shomer’s Menu).
  2. In the search bar (top left), write the name of the individual you wish to add to the texting list and click on the magnifying glass. Then click on the individual’s name to access their complete member profile.
  3. Open a separate tab and click Add to Texting Lists (Area Coordinator’s Menu).
  4. At the top of the Receivers page, click New. This brings you to the User page.
  5. From the Member Profile page, copy and paste the shomer’s first name, last name, phone number, and email address into the User Information section of the User page. (Ignore the Birthday line.)
  6. Back on the Member Profile page, see which congregation(s) is/are listed under “Which of these are you able and willing to serve?”
  7. On the User page, click on the Subscribed button for all and only the congregation(s) through which the shomer is willing and able to serve.
  8. Also click on the button for the All Last Responders texting list.
  9. Double-check that only All Last Responders and the correct texting lists are marked as Subscribed.
  10. Click Saved.

To delete a member from the texting list(s):

  1. Click Manage Members (Area Coordinator’s Menu).
  2. In the dropdown menu below the search bar (top left), select “All Plans.”
  3. In the search bar, write the name of the person whose profile you wish to delete. Click the magnifying glass.
  4. Click on the box to the left of the name you wish to delete from the texting list. If the person is both a shomer and a coordinator, there may be two entries. Click only on the one(s) you wish to delete.
  5. At the top of the page, click Delete.
  6. Important follow-up: Contact the Site Administrator (Home Menu -> Contact Us) and tell him which profile has been deleted.

How do I delete a member profile?

To delete the profile of an Austin Shmirah member, follow these steps exactly.

  1. Delete the member’s subscription.
    • For a shomer, in the Coordinator’s Menu, click Shomrim List
    • For a coordinator, in the Shomer’s Menu, click Coordinator List
    • You will need the member’s email address. If you don’t have it, you can find it in their profile:
      • Enter the member’s name in the search box and click the magnifying glass to the right
      • Copy the member’s email address, which is also their user name
    • In the Area Coordinator’s Menu, select Manage Members
    • Enter the member’s email address in the search box and click the magnifying glass to the right
    • Click on the checkbox to the left of the member’s name
    • Click on the Delete button on the top of the page, then click “OK.
  1. Disable the user.
    • In the Area Coordinator’s Menu, select Approve Shomrim (if removing a shomer) or Approve Coordinators (if removing a coordinator)
    • Enter their email in the search box and hit enter
    • Select the Lock symbol next to their name. It will change to an unlocked symbol. This means they are no longer enabled
  1. Remove the member from any texting lists.
    • In the Area Coordinator’s Menu, select Add to Texting Lists
    • Enter the member’s email in the search bar (upper left) and hit Enter
    • Click on the checkbox to the left of the member’s name
    • Click on the trash can/Delete icon in the upper menu, then click “OK”

End of FAQ

{accordionfaq faqid=accordion1 faqclass="flickfaq defaulticon headerbackground headerborder contentbackground contentborder round5" active=item1}