The Chevra Kadisha of Greater Washington maintains the highest level of respect and dignity (kavod hameis), caring for all Jewish people at the time of a death. We are available to assist families, with sensitivity and expertise, with any questions regarding an imminent or recent death. Before making funeral arrangements, it is helpful to understand the basic principles and practices concerning death and mourning to which Judaism subscribes. The Chevra Kadisha of Greater Washington is a volunteer organization offering services of burial preparation to any Jewish person, regardless of their denomination or observance.
A General Overview of Traditional Burial Practices
- Tahara - the traditional preparation: The traditional washing and dressing of the deceased with dignity. Performed by trained members of the Chevra Kadisha (Sacred Society).
- Tachrichim - the burial garments: A full set of traditional clothing, preferably made of linen, which symbolizes equality and purity.
- Aron - the burial casket : A coffin constructed of wood, in keeping with the Biblical teaching:"For dust art thou and to the dust thou shalt return." (Genesis 3:19)
- Shmira - the watching of the remains: As a mark of respect for the departed, the deceased is never left alone until after burial. Psalms are traditionally recited by the Shomer (Watcher).
- Kvurah B'Karka - burial in the ground: Tradition requires that burial must be in the ground, filling the grave completely until a mound is formed. It is a great mitzvah to attend the funeral and to participate in the burial of a fellow Jew.