FUNERAL PLANNING RESOURCES & SUPPORT
Ideas & Resources
WHAT TO DO FIRST
The death of a loved one is likely to be the most difficult and painful experience any one of us can go through.
This brief outline of suggested activities has been designed to assist in understanding the Jewish procedure on what to do first following the death of a loved one.
During the last minutes of life, no-one in the presence of the deceased may leave, excepting those whose emotions are uncontrollable, or the physically ill. It is a matter of greatest respect to watch over a person as they pass from this world to the next.
Notify the authorities
It is imperative that the authorities be advised immediately upon the discovery of the death of a loved one. Even if the death is of a natural cause, one should call 911 without delay.
This is normally performed by a doctor or staff should the passing of a loved one occur in a hospital or care center.
What to do first
After death has been determined, the eyes and mouth of the deceased should be closed, either by family or friends.
The position of the body should be so oriented that the feet face the doorway if possible. When removing a deceased person from a room, the deceased should be removed feet first.
The deceased should not be touched or moved except for their honor such as:
To straighten the body if it is found in an awkward position (by touching through the bed linen)
Adjust the bed so the body remains flat.
Place the arms beside the body.
Remove all pillows from around the body and leave one under the head.
Cover the face with top sheet.
Cut off all tubes and cathodes, etc. from their source, do not pull them out.
Do not wash the body.
Jewelry may be left on the body, as we remove and return it to the family.
From the moment of death until the burial, the deceased should not be left alone.
We would appreciate your co-operation and assistance in preparing the deceased for burial by;
1/ Telephone the Chevra Kadisha of the South Bay on (408) 910-2034
2/ When the doctor has certified the death of the patient, please attempt to ensure the Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) is issued immediately. If you have difficulties in obtaining the MCCD, would you please explain to the family that this may impede the removal of the deceased from the hospital.
A Jewish funeral should in every respect express the dignity and sanctity of a solemn religious service
Two overriding principles govern the Jewish approach to death and mourning.
First is Kavod Ha-Met (Honoring the Dead). It is of the utmost importance to treat the body with respect and care from the time of death until the burial is completed.
Second is the view that death is a Natural Process: Death is considered a natural part of the life cycle and the body is returned to the earth whence it came. Hence everything associated with the body for burial is that which will decompose with the body, facilitating its return "from ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Chevra Kadisha societies prepare the deceased for internment by performing a ritual purification known as the Taharah. Doing kind deeds for someone who has just died is done with the knowledge that your kindness cannot be repaid by that person and has long been regarded as the ultimate act of unselfishness. Taharahs are performed for men by men and for women by women. Ecclesiastes (Koheleth) stated, "As he came, so shall he go." Just as a newborn child is immediately washed and enters this world clean and pure, so shall a person who departs this world be cleansed and made pure.
Kavod Ha-Met (Honoring the Dead) is of the utmost importance to treat the body with respect and care from the time of death until the burial is completed.
The following is an overview of our spiritual heritage in the Mitzvah of Kavo Ha-Met
1. Timely Burial: Not unnecessarily delaying the interment
2. Shomer: An attending reader of Psalms so the deceased is never left alone
3. Taharah and Shrouding: Preparation in accordance to Torah by a Chevra Kadisha
4. Wooden Casket: Of natural construction
5. Ground Interment: Burial in the sanctified environs of a Jewish Cemetery
6. Aveilut: Observing Shiva and the Jewish Mourning Traditions
What is a Taharah?
With utmost dignity and respect the deceased is washed and then dressed in Tachrichim, the traditional burial shroud. Prayers are recited, asking that forgiveness and eternal peace be granted to the departed. This process is the essence of the Jewish funeral and a major part of Kavod Ha-Met, honoring the dead.
Why a Taharah?
This beautiful tradition expresses the reverence we feel for the body as the receptacle of the Neshama, the G-D given soul. In the belief that the soul is still aware until after the burial, the body is treated gently and with sensitivity. In mature acceptance of the reality and the finality of death, while tradition insists that the body be as presentable as possible, no attempt is made to cosmetize or to create a life-like appearance through artificial means and devices.
Who should have a Taharah?
Every Jewish person, regardless of affiliation or level of religious observance should have a Taharah. Like the Bris (circumcision), the Bar and Bat Mitzvah at maturity, Taharah is the universally accepted religious act that completes the Jewish life cycle.
How to arrange for the Taharah?
All Jewish funeral directors offer Taharah as a choice of preparation. However, while every Jewish funeral home can arrange for the Taharah, at this time one must specifically request this service.
CREMATION OR BURIAL?
What's the importance of a burial?
It's a mitzvah! It's a commandment in our religion. The Torah clearly states that a Jew must be buried no matter the level of observance.
Why choose a Jewish burial?
We have a responsibility to our loved ones towards their memory and Neshama (Soul) of the deceased.
Complete the circle of life
The natural way is to be put gently back into the ground and not violently cremated and scattered to the wind.
What is more environmentally friendly?
The cremation process from an energy and polution standpoint is not environmently friendly as opposed to a Jewish burial.
Special lecture event by Doron Kornbluth for Jmemorial.org
PeacefulReturn.org explaining the importance and beauty of burial
Testimonials: Paying Last Respects in a Modern Jewish Family