When you choose Jewish Memorial Chapel, you will have the assurance that you and your family will be served with the utmost respect and in accordance with the Jewish funeral and burial customs that are important to you. After your call to Jewish Memorial Chapel, the first person to be called should be your rabbi or the deceased’s rabbi to walk you through the religious aspects of the funeral ceremony.
Out of respect, the deceased is not left alone from the time of death until the funeral. The funeral home will arrange for a Shomer or “watchman” that stays with the deceased from the time of death until the funeral and burial.
Typically, the time between death and burial is not long. Traditionally a Jewish burial is supposed to take place within 24 hours of death. This is done in accordance of the Torah, sacred Jewish scripture, which says, “You shall bury him the same day… his body should not remain all night.” Today outside of Orthodox communities, funerals rarely occur this quickly. However, the funeral should take place as soon as possible following the death.
Burials never take place on the Sabbath or holidays.
Before the deceased is buried, the person must be ritually washed. Those who volunteer to do this righteous task are members of a “chevra kadisha,” or holy society. They are on call 24 hours a day. Men perform the ritual on males who have passed, and women do so for the females. Once the deceased is washed, the person is clothed in a white linen shroud. Men also wear a “tallit,” or prayer shawl and a “kittel,” a white garment worn on the high holidays and sometimes at weddings.
Jewish Memorial Chapel will coordinate a time for the service that allows for the family’s needs, as well as the time constraints of the rabbi and cemetery. Depending upon a congregation’s policy, a service may be held in the temple or synagogue. Many people today are opting for services at the cemetery only.
What is a shomer?
The shomer, or one who guards, will sit near the body and say Psalms for the soul. Jewish law states that the body should not be left alone since it is said that the soul lingers near the body until burial.
What is a Taharah?
Before the body is buried, it is washed in a ritual act of purification called tahara. Just as a baby is washed and enters the world clean and pure, so do we leave the world cleansed by the religious act of tahara. The tahara is done by the Chevra kadisha or Jewish Burial Society. Strict procedures are followed, which include the recitation of prayers and psalms. Men handle male bodies and women prepare female bodies; modesty is preserved even in death.They are all trained by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn.
What are Tachrichim?
Tachrichim are white linen shrouds that the Chevra Kadisha put on the body after the tahara process. One reason behind this is that all Jews, wealthy or poor, greet God in the same external wear. A man is also buried in his Tallit (can be provided by Jewish Memorial Chapel).
Why is a plain pine casket preferred?
"For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19) is the guiding principle when choosing a casket. By using an ornate caskte pays honor to the family's wealth instead of focusing on the deceased's good deeds. Jewish tradition requires that the person be buried in a plain, modest, casket. The casket must be made from material that will disintegrate in the ground, allowing the body to return to the earth as quickly as possible, and enabling the soul to attain true and final peace.
Cremation is not an option at Jewish Memorial Chapel. Why?
Cremation goes against Jewish law and although other funeral homes do offer it, Jewish Memorial Chapel will not offer something that conflicts with Jewish tradition. Our funeral home is based on the Jewish laws for burial without compromising on price or service. Everything we do shows respect the body and offers comfort to the family while keeping the Jewish tradition in tact. There are many reasons why cremation is not within the boundaries of Jewish law. One such reason is that Man's soul comes from above and when it is finished its mission on earth, it rises back up to God. The body, on the other hand, comes from the earth and shall return to the earth. Cremation destroys much of the body and thus violates the commandments of burial in the ground. Also, the body belongs to the creator. While living, it is on loan to us and we try to take care of it as best as possible so it can be returned, in its entirety to God.
Is embalming allowed by Jewish law?
Embalming is not allowed by Jewish law unless mandated by the government.