All About Chevra Kadisha
Originally posted on September 5, 2019, this post has been edited for relevancy and accuracy.
As a leading Long Island provider of Jewish monuments, Fox Monuments is a staff of experts in the history and traditions of celebrating Jewish heritage. The Jewish faith is rich with history, symbols and traditions, and we pride ourselves on accommodating the needs and faith of our clients.
The mourning stages are often a confusing and stressful time. Losing a loved one is never easy. There are many practices within the Jewish faith that can help families heal and move forward. For example; the Meal of Consolation or Shiva.
Not all practices are for the aftermath of a loved one’s death. There are also traditions that are meant for the final years of one’s life. These traditions can often ease the transition between life and death.
In this post, we’ll explore the ancient tradition of the Chevra Kadisha, or “holy society.” This is an organization of men and women who attend to the bodies of deceased Jews.
What is the Chevra Kadisha?
A Chevra Kadisha is an organization of men and women who gather to honor the dead. Their main objectives are to ensure that anyone present treats the body with respect, protects it from desecration, and prepares it for burial according to Jewish tradition during the act of Shemira.
The Chevra Kadisha is also responsible for cleaning the body. Moreover, they ensure that they clean it according to the practice of Taharah.
Taharah means “purification” and is the name of the ancient method of cleansing the deceased. During Taharah, those present pour water first on the head. Then, they pour it over the rest of the body in a ritual purification.
After they clean the body, they dress the deceased for their burial.
The Merits of Chevra Kadisha?
Within the Jewish faith, participating in a Chevra Kadisha is widely perceived as a noble and respectable act. Furthermore, it is a service that is devoid of any greed or ulterior motive. Those present receive no monetary gain or reward of any kind. Therefore, holy texts praise its selflessness and nobility.
Within holy Hebrew text, the Chevra Kadisha goes by “chesed shel emet,” which translates to “a good deal of truth.”
Most burial societies (especially modern ones) take additional steps to honor not only the deceased, but also their grieving loved ones. The Chevra Kadisha will assist the family by providing support during the Shiva, preparing meals, and arranging prayer services.
If you’re interested in the services of a Chevra Kadisha, consult your rabbi or synagogue for further information. At Fox Monuments, we understand the importance of providing stability, support and faith in times of confusion and disbelief.
Paying tribute to your loved one, whether with Jewish cemetery monuments, a Chevra Kadisha or Shiva, is a critical aspect of mourning and healing. After years of serving the Long Island Jewish community, we are more than happy to guide you through this process, choose an honorable inscription and ease the burden of your loss.
We are always here to help.