David Zinner is the founder and Executive Director of Kavod v'Nichum, (Honor and Comfort), which has worked to restore to Jewish death and bereavement practice, the traditions and values of kavod hamet (honoring the dead) and nichum avelim (comforting the bereaved) since 2000. He is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Gamliel Institute, a center for leadership training and advocacy of traditional Jewish practice in the continuum of care at the end of life since 2010. Kavod v’Nichum is the only non-profit organization in the United States and Canada that focuses solely on education and advocacy of Jewish traditions around dying, death, funerals, burials, cemeteries, grief and mourning.
David is the Gamliel Institute’s lead author for its first three courses – Chevra Kadisha: History, Origins and Evolution; Chevra Kadisha: Tahara and Shmira; and Chevra Kadisha: Education, Organizing and Training. He researches and writes course material, including extensive historical, text and political analysis.
David coordinates the North American Chevra Kadisha Conferences, manages the web site “Jewish Funerals, Burial and Mourning,” and teaches workshops on Jewish traditions and practices that relate to death, burial and mourning throughout the United States. He facilitates Kavod Conversations (Conversations of Honor) based on the Conversation Project model, that provide resources and strategies to begin to help clergy initiate end of life conversations with congregants.
David’s newest project – PRINCE - Preservation and Restoration Initiative for Neglected Cemetery Entities – is co-sponsored by the State of Maryland Cemetery Board and the Division of Corrections. PRINCE matches cemeteries that need labor with prisoners eligible for work release.
As Vice-President of the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington, David participates in developing citywide contracts with funeral homes and helps coordinate city-wide shmira. David is the Chevra Kadisha Chair at the Columbia Jewish Congregation, representative of religious non-profit cemeteries on the State of Maryland’s Advisory Council on Cemetery Operations. He was the Executive Director of Tifereth Israel Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Washington, DC for 10 years.
David received his Bachelor’s Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO with a major in non-profit management.