What is a Chevra Kadisha?
The Chevra Kadisha, translated as the Sacred Society, is an organization that has traditionally been composed of volunteers. Members of the Chevra Kadisha have been and still are very honorable. Rabbis of great fame, such as the Chasam Sofer, served in the Chevra Kadisha. The Chevrea Kadisha’s task is considered to be laudable since the services done for the deceased cannot be reciprocated, thus, the favor is done without ulterior motives. Hence, the work of the Chevra Kadisa is often referred to as a truthful deed or in Hebrew, a chesed shel emet. This is paraphrased in Berieshis (47:30) where Yaakov asks his son Yosef, ‘do me a true favor’ and Yosef promises that he will bury his father in his ancestor’s burial place.
History of Chevra Kadisha?
Historically, one of the first community institutions that were established when a Jewish community was founded was the Chevra Kadisha organization. Most Jewish communities have a Chevra Kadisha organization that serves them with all burial and funeral needs. While in the past the membership of the Chevra kadisha was passed down from father to son, nowadays it is common to have respected individuals as members. Additionally, Chevra Kadisha societies in Europe were a community function; currently it is more common for the Chevra Kadisha to be organized by each synagogue.
Both mourners and the Chevra Kadisha share the responsibility for the myriad arrangements involved in preparing the deceased for a proper funeral and burial. However, the Chevra Kadisha has traditionally done all the necessary work and mourners fulfill their obligation by hiring the Chevra Kadisha. One of the important functions of the Chevra Kadisha is to provide services to a deceased who doesn’t have anyone else that could or would take care of his or her funeral and burial. This deceased individual is referred to as a mes mitzvah.
To commemorate the anniversary of the birth and death of Moses on the seventh day of the Jewish month of Adar, the Chevra Kadisha has an annual fast day. This day is commemorated by the Chevra Kadisha since it is the first place in the Torah where it is mentioned that God Himself performed the tasks of the Chevra Kadisha when He buried Moses. The function of the fast day is also to atone for any unintentional disrespect that the Chevra Kadisha may have shown to the deceased.
Additionally, the Chevra Kadisha meets on a consistent basis to study the Jewish laws pertaining to funerals and burials.
When our father died, we were devastated. Using Chevra Kadisah Artzos Ha'Chaim was a small consolation in our time of distress. Their compassion and professionalism showed in every step they took from the moment we called them to the funeral and burial. As a Jewish family we wanted a Jewish funeral and burial and the Chevra Kadisha Artzos Ha'Chaim provided all the services according to our Jewish tradition.