FAQs

We frequently receive questions that may require a slightly longer response than what we have room for on our main website. From details about Jewish funeral practices to slightly more unusual questions that may have been nagging at you, we’ll try to provide some answers here.

Any information about ritual practice is intended as a general overview for the broader Jewish community and there are many differences of opinion within this community. Concerns about specific ritual practices should be directed to your rabbi. Opinions expressed in blog posts and in external links may not represent the opinions of the staff or ownership of Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc.


Shomers – Guardians of the Soul

 

Have you ever wondered what the word Shomer means?

Or what is the purpose of the Jewish tradition of someone staying with a deceased at all times?

 

Shomer literally means “guardian,” and there are some very important reasons we still honor the tradition of having a shomer in our building.

 

“The body is understood to be the creation of G-d and the dwelling place of the soul. As such, a body must be accorded every respect, in life and in death.”

Our Jewish faith teaches us that our most important responsibility is to care for our loved ones after death. According to jhvonline.com, “the body is understood to be the creation of G-d and the dwelling place of the soul. As such, a body must be accorded every respect, in life and in death. In practice, this means that a dead body should not be left alone.”

 

Caring for the dead is one of the highest mitzvahs you can achieve – or a chesed shel emet – which jewishpress.com defines as a “kindness of truth (i.e. with pure intent), since one cannot be thanked by the recipient of the chesed.” Part of respecting and caring for the dead involves having a shomer, or “watcher” with the deceased, beginning at the time of death up until the time of the funeral.

 

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At Sol Levinson & Bros., we have several people we engage to serve as a shomer so that no deceased is ever left unattended. They stay in a dedicated room adjacent to where the deceased is, where they read psalms (“Tehillim,” in Hebrew). On occasion, a family may decide that they or some friends prefer to sit shomer for their own loved one, and we have accommodations for this as well.

 

 

Memorialization and Unexpected Deaths

 

**This is an incredibly emotionally-challenging topic, and we ask you to please use your judgment as to whether this is an appropriate article for you at your personal stage in the grief journey.**

 

The grief experience is complex even in the most straightforward circumstances. That already-difficult experience can be compounded by a sudden death. The process can be even harder yet on those who have lost someone due to choices their loved one made.

 

ConsolationSome of the challenges families face in circumstances of a sudden death are explained in this brief overview by a grief educator. The questions of how to best remember the life of someone who has died suddenly – and how that memorialization can also help the family heal – is an important one.

 

Please know that we at Sol Levinson & Bros. are here to be a resource, to help find ways to honor a life and a relationship in the way that best reflects your loved one, and to provide memorialization that meets your needs. If that means taking a little more time to carefully craft a service, or to provide the family a little time to gather together and regroup before being surrounded by community, we are here to help. If you are concerned about finding a sensitive way to share a loved one’s life story, we work with many members of the clergy who are compassionate and understanding.

How your loved one dies does not take away your need to grieve.

 

As funeral directors, we have found that the initial reaction of family members in these situations is often a survival instinct – to shut down and handle the final arrangements for the person as quickly and privately as possible. That may serve an immediate need, but sometimes that instinct makes the grief experience harder and more complicated in the long run. Just as with the importance of the stages of mourning in Jewish tradition to honor a loss and transition slowly back into the world, a funeral or memorialization is important to acknowledge and honor the loss a family is experiencing. As a recent Connecting Directors article noted, “When a loved one dies under tragic circumstances, some families choose to not have a funeral. They may be embarrassed and worried what others will think due to how their loved one died. Regardless of how someone died, there are, very often, memories worth commemorating.” (“NFDA Addresses Tragic Deaths in New Public Service Announcements.” NFDA, National Funeral Directors Association, 25 March 2019, www.nfda.org). How your loved one dies does not take away your need to grieve.

 

 


 

Resources

There are many articles that talk about and provide resources for various types of sudden loss and grief. Whether the death is due to an accident, overdose, suicide, heart attack or other causes, the family’s needs are incredibly important. Below is a list of some articles and videos that address these issues. There are also many local resources for survivors of different types of sudden death. Jewish Community Services is the main Jewish organization in Baltimore that can help direct people to bereavement support groups or other assistance, and you can reach them at 410-466-9200 or see their services on their Emotional Well Being page

 

**Warning: the videos and articles can be intense and may be upsetting for those who have experienced these types of loss. Please be sure you are with someone supportive when you watch or read them.**

 

Videos

The National Funeral Directors Association recently created some PSAs for those experiencing certain types of sudden, traumatic loss.

When a Parent Dies of an Overdose”

When a parent dies of an overdose, it can lead to strong emotions, especially among children. Having a funeral gives the family the opportunity to remember their loved one and the good times they had with other family members and friends. A funeral offers a time to gather, grieve and support one another.

 

“Remembering A Good Friend Who Made Bad Decisions”

We may not always agree with the life decisions made by our loved ones, especially if they involve illegal activity. A funeral provides the opportunity to come together and reflect on a loved one’s entire life history and remember the good times you had together.

 

Articles

 

Mourner’s Kaddish: Traditions and Alternatives

PrayerbookJewish mourning practices are designed as a series of steps that allow us to set time aside for grieving and then gradually move forward in a natural progression – shiva for seven days, sheloshim for the first 30 days, then the full year for a child mourning a parent, not to mention the yahrzeit and yizkor services – but why do we do this, and what do people do if they can’t make it to a minyan every day, or if they don’t find meaning or support in the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish?

 

To begin with, Shiva.com has a brief explainer of the various periods of mourning. As with all religious practices, we strongly encourage you to have an open conversation with your rabbi about your needs and the options, within your level of observance. Judaism is unusual in that it has a defined set of mourning practices in order to help the bereaved transition back into “normal” life, without feeling they have to jump back in after a few days. Many people find this series of steps gives them the freedom to fully grieve, without having to put on a false front to the rest of the world.

While most rabbis would encourage you to go to shul on a regular basis to be in community as you remember your loved one, perhaps you can find a way to incorporate your own spiritual practices into that process. Rabbi Dana Saroken, of Beth El Congregation, believes in the healing power power of reciting kaddish as a part of a community. She shared, “I always encourage people, even if the words don’t feel fluid or natural or they aren’t regular ‘shul-go-ers,’ to try attending a minyan on a regular basis. The Jewish tradition is that we recite kaddish for immediate family for a month for a child, sibling, or spouse and for 11 months (minus a day) for a parent. I have found that when people make time in their lives to channel their grief, especially among a community of people who understand what it feels like to experience love and loss – they have structure in their journey through grief and also tend to emerge from that time feeling more ‘ready’ to re-enter the world of the living when their period of mourning comes to an end. Whether it’s daily or weekly – creating a fixed time for connecting to G-d, to others, and to the presence and memory of our loved ones – is a precious opportunity and it matters.” Rabbi Saroken also shared that, “People can use the mourner’s kaddish to focus on the words that praise G-d (even in moments of loss) or they can spend their time bringing to mind a memory/memories of their loved one. Sometimes, I just think of the rhythmic recitation of the prayer as a heartbeat or an umbilical cord that continues to connect us to the person that we love.”

It is also helpful to understand exactly why these Jewish practices have come to be, before making a decision about your own practice. This article in the Forward makes some important points about What Judaism Teaches Us About Grief and Loss. And this post from the ritualwell website encourages people through the process of saying Kaddish, from the perspective of someone who initially struggled to even pronounce all the words.  

 

If saying Kaddish is not for you, it may be helpful to find other ways to incorporate the set periods of mourning into your routine, even if you choose not to attend synagogue to say Kaddish. If your family is only having shiva for a few days, you may still want to find some way to mark the full shiva period whether by spending your evenings at home with family sharing memories of the person, by making some of their favorite recipes, or by doing something like not listening to music or not watching tv for those seven days. If you are not attending a minyan but you’re looking for something a little more formal, Judaism encourages study of a text such as Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of Our Fathers), for the appropriate length of the mourning period, taking time to consciously think about your loved one before you begin.

If these more traditional approaches still do not meet your needs and you are looking for a way to honor the traits of someone you loved by creating a spiritual practice, the ritualwell website has a helpful post on this topic. Ritualwell also has an entire section dedicated to Mourning and Bereavement, where you can find poems, stories, ritual guidance and more. One suggestion would be to dedicate yourself to 30 days or a year (for a parent) of silent meditation each morning, dedicated to thoughts and memories of your loved one. Also, many people choose to begin a volunteer project for a cause their loved one supported, start an awareness project in their memory, or get involved in an organization that meant something to their loved one.

 

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that it reflects your needs and supports you as you move through this journey.

Tips for Cleaning a Relative’s Home, Downsizing for a Move, or Decluttering to Help Your Family

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Have you ever faced the overwhelming challenge of cleaning out a loved one’s home for a move to a smaller place or a nursing home, or felt rushed to do this after their death?

It can seem insurmountable, especially if you are grieving their death or juggling their healthcare needs, as well as your own family and work life. Several recent articles provide suggestions and resources for these situations, as well as tips for decluttering your own home so that this burden does not fall on your own children.

  • Cleaning out a relatives home: Many people have heard of Marie Kondo, or the KonMari Method, where you go through all of your items and consider whether they “spark joy.” This is a helpful method for going through someone else’s items to make hard decisions. Check out this article for suggestions on how to follow this approach. Some people also choose to contact a home or estate clean-out company to help handle this task.
  • Cleaning out your own home:
    • Marie Kondo also promotes her method to encourage people to clean up their homes before someone else has to do it for them. Tips for going through the process with your own items using this approach can be found in this article.
    • Another approach comes from a book titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” which some people find less daunting than the KonMari Method. It may sound like an odd title, but it is a straight-forward and often funny book by Margareta Magnusson that provides encouragement and tips for people who may be downsizing. It is also beneficial to those who are point in their life where they want to reevaluate their possessions and how they want to ease the burden on their own children. This article talks about her approach, which involves taking your time to gently regard the objects in your home, consider their value to you and your family beyond just their nostalgic value, and make decisions based on that.
  • Paperwork: One other suggestion for cleaning up that Sol Levinson & Bros. can be of assistance with is tackling paperwork. We have experienced firsthand the dread in people’s voices when they realize they have to go through someone’s whole office – or even just a file cabinet – to find important details about wills, birth certificates, insurance policies, and bank accounts. That’s why when you come in to discuss Advance Planning with us we provide you with a personalized resource called the Levinson’s Advance Planning Guide. This guide contains a simple, easy-to-find space to write down all the important information for your family. It’s kind of like a summary of your personal affairs. The added benefit is that we also gather important information ahead of time, and ask you the questions we need to so that your family does not have to also be burdened with those tasks at the time of your death. There is no charge for our time to meet with you and there is no obligation to pre-pay (though that is yet another thing you could do for your family ahead of time to make things easier on them).

Whichever cleaning method you choose, be sure to let family know in case they want a particular item you may not have been aware of. If you would like to make an appointment to meet with us and get your personalized Levinson’s Advance Planning Guide, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 410-653-8900 or use our Online Appointment Scheduler to pick a time that works for you.

Who Typically Serves as a Pallbearer?

In Jewish tradition, immediate mourners (spouse, children, siblings) typically do not serve as pallbearers, but in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, close family friends, et cetera, may serve. Your level of observance will determine whether men and women, or just men, can serve as pallbearers. Please ask your rabbi if you have questions.
For services in our chapel, we will call pallbearers by name and give them instructions at the end of the service (at graveside services they are not called by name, they meet at the hearse to receive instructions).
Active pallbearers (5-10 people) physically lift and carry the casket at the funeral home and again at the cemetery, and must be able to lift. For services in our chapel you may also have honorary pallbearers. If you have more than 10 people to be pallbearers, or people unable to physically lift, you may make them honorary pallbearers and they will stand in the aisle of the chapel at the end of the service in the funeral home. Fraternal groups or charitable guilds should be acknowledged as honorary pallbearers.

Contemporary Guide to Visiting Cemeteries

  • What is the Jewish religious/historical background of cemeteries and the purpose of having an established burial place marked with a person’s name?
  • If we don’t believe the person is “there,” what significance does a person’s burial place hold?
  • Especially in this age of people moving away from their hometown, why are cemeteries still important?
  • What are the traditional rituals or readings to recite at a cemetery, and why?
  • What are some creative new options for making a visit to the cemetery more meaningful, both for adults and children?stones-on-grave

As our society evolves, how can we find meaning and purpose in our visit to the grave of a loved one? It can be difficult in our busy lives to find time to visit the cemetery, especially when many feel that the person is not really there in any tangible way. We spoke with several area rabbis to get their feedback about the traditional roots of the concept of a cemetery, as well as approaches you can take to visiting, and contemporary rituals you can perform to create a visit that is personally meaningful for you and your family.

The first thing to be said is that approaches, of course, vary based on a person’s level of observance and we always encourage you to ask your rabbi about options for visiting the cemetery. However, when it comes down to it, the visit is about you and your connection to the person who is buried there. This guide seeks to help strengthen that connection through visiting the cemetery. To that end, we are including responses from Rabbi Andrew Busch of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Rabbi Jessy Dressin who is Senior Director of Jewish Learning and Life at the JCC, Rabbi Steven Schwartz of Beth El Congregation, and Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro of Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah.

What is the Jewish religious/historical background of cemeteries and the purpose of having an established burial place marked with a person’s name?

It is important to note that the tradition of having an established burial place goes back to the very first Jew, Abraham, who – as Rabbi Shapiro notes – went through a lot of hoops to pick the right location for a family place of burial. Rabbi Schwartz also points out that in Genesis 35:19-20, Jacob sets a stone to mark the place where Rachel is buried, and there is also an emphasis that “the dust returns to the earth as it was…” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In the Talmud they even refer to a grave stone as a “nefesh” or soul.

The Jewish burial process is driven by the concept of “kavod hamet” or respect for the dead. This is interpreted as treating a deceased person as if they were still alive, including not delaying burial unnecessarily. To Rabbi Busch, the establishment of a cemetery fulfills kavod hamet in several ways – by providing for a respectful burial ground, by providing for the community, and by ensuring that everyone has an appropriate burial place regardless of their wealth. It also connects a family to their history in a particular community.

If we don’t believe the person is “there,” what significance does a person’s burial place hold?

Traditional Judaism believes that a spiritual remnant of the deceased- a connection to their soul remains forever at the grave. But depending upon one’s beliefs, many feel the person is no longer there at the cemetery in any tangible way. So why do we still go to the cemetery, if we don’t think it is any different than another space in regard to that individual? To begin with, a cemetery is still considered a holy place, due to the aforementioned concept of kavod hamet. It is the final resting place of a person’s body that was created in the image of G-d and that carried their soul through its earthly journey. Several of the rabbis mentioned that the sacredness or holiness of the space can enhance a visitor’s connection to the person. Rabbi Dressin reflects that a cemetery visit allows you to “think of them with special intentionality” given that the act of going to the cemetery can create a container of sorts of a specific moment in time. Therefore, by going to a designated place, that may be different than how you think about that person as you go along your daily routine.

There are also some important traditional reasons to visit a cemetery. It is customary to visit at holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and yahrzeits. Visiting a cemetery at certain milestones throughout the year is, as Rabbi Shapiro mentions, a way of continuing the relationship with that person and extending the concept of kavod hamet. You can even go and talk to the person and share news of family life such as weddings and births. It is also customary to visit at a time of need, whether you believe in the traditional view that prayer at a cemetery will allow your loved one to intercede with G-d on your behalf or you just need a quiet, meditative place to have that person in your mind when you are going through a difficult time. Some people go to the cemetery to have a focused place to talk about their issues out loud and feel they are sharing them with a loved one who is no longer physically present in their lives.

Especially in this age of people moving away from their hometown, why are cemeteries still important?

As stated at the beginning, cemeteries create a community space for burial and a sense of community history. Rabbi Schwartz points out that establishing a cemetery is typically one of the first things a community does to honor the dead and show “that a community has roots.” He also mentions that “it is comforting to have a known location where a body lies interred.” Rabbi Busch echoes this by saying that “even though they may end up moving…there is still some place to visit or to know that someone is taken care of, physically and metaphorically.”

For those who are unsure of where to be buried because their family lives in several different places, it is important to keep in mind whether you want to be buried in the community where you spent your life or, possibly, as Rabbi Shapiro mentioned, “why not be buried somewhere else, like near your children or other relatives, if nobody is going to come back to where you live. Ask yourself what would give your family the greatest peace of mind.” For some there is also some reassurance in knowing that, no matter where your family may move or eventually end up, a person has been given a final resting place.

What are the traditional rituals or readings to recite at a cemetery, and why?

Psalms are traditionally read at the cemetery and were meant to be a form of meditation. Often the 23rd Psalm is read. Some people also choose to recite El Maleih (the Memorial Prayer) and the Mourner’s Kaddish. These readings emphasize the traditional nature of a cemetery, which is – in Rabbi Shapiro’s words – a “place of contemplation, thought, and reflection.”

If you are not familiar with Mourner’s Kaddish and would like to practice it before going to the cemetery, the Hebrew and transliteration, as well as an audio recording, can be found on our website. All of the other readings can be found on this downloadable .pdf or by picking up one of our blue “Prayers of Comfort” books.

What are some creative new options for making a visit to the cemetery more meaningful, both for adults and children?

Rabbi Dressin emphasizes that “it is important to get over the barriers to going to the cemetery. There isn’t a rule about how you should feel when you visit a cemetery, and there are few restrictions about what you can or cannot do.” She encourages people to “think intentionally about the visit and create the necessary space to feel their presence or your sense of loss.”

As you plan your visit to the cemetery, Rabbi Dressin recommends asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the mood I want at my visit?
  • What did that person like to do in life? Did they always read the paper? Bring a newspaper and read it to them (Rabbi Busch had a former congregant who would read the entire paper to his father every Sunday).
  • What do YOU do for comfort? Do you like to knit? Draw? Color? Journal? Bring those items and sit at the grave and do those things.

Rabbi Dressin also recommends the following activities: Share stories with other family who goes with you, especially with those who didn’t know the person as well. Think of things you liked to do with the person and reminisce about those things while there – if you did crossword puzzles together, bring a crossword puzzle. Bring a special stone with you, either a certain color or type of stone, a stone from your yard or vacation or that person’s favorite place. You can also have young children paint small river rocks and then spray with shellac to be left at the grave; or, if you are having a child make a craft for Mother’s or Father’s Day, have the child make an extra and take the child to leave it at the grave. If appropriate, bring another object – sculpt their favorite animal from playdoh, bring a pack of cards, a small figurine of a favorite object or animal. Pick a poem or song lyrics that remind you of the person and read it at the grave. If the visit to a cemetery is uncomfortable or too overwhelming to contemplate, consider keeping it short and planning a small family gathering for a bite to eat afterward, where you can sit in a more relaxed environment and talk about the person.

Rabbi Busch recommends singing a song the deceased liked, at the grave, which is an especially good way for a child to feel included. Or a child could sing their own favorite song. Rabbi Busch also suggests reading a poem or simply talking to your loved one. For Rabbi Schwartz, a nice way to bring more meaning to the visit would be to write a message to your loved one in advance and leave it at the grave, perhaps under a special rock. He also likes the idea of marking the occasion by having someone say a few words about the person.

Rabbi Shapiro encourages people to visit at difficult times and perhaps take some poems or meaningful meditations. He has seen people take solace in readings he refers to as “contemporary Psalms” such as the poem, “We Remember Them” and “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.” While there is also a Jewish tradition not to turn the burial place into a type of idol to the person’s memory, Rabbi Shapiro also looks forward to how technology may one day be incorporated into monuments in order to provide information about a person’s life history or a slideshow for future generations to learn more about the person and feel connected.

How can your family create meaningful new rituals to make your visit to the cemetery more impactful? What does visiting the cemetery mean to you and your family? How does visiting the cemetery connect us to our family history and Jewish history? All of these are important questions to ask before your next visit. We hope this guide has offered a starting point for your contemplation.

Why do We Place Earth in the Grave?

Have you ever wondered why it is Jewish tradition to fill in the graves of our loved ones? To some it may seem like a painful process and, truthfully, it is. But our Jewish faith teaches us to care for one another, and that doesn’t stop after death. In fact, the guiding Jewish principal after someone dies is “Kavod HaMet” or honoring the dead. According to chabad.org, “Burial is the last physical act of kindness that we do for our departed loved ones. We have cared for them in their lifetimes, and now we care for them in their passing by ensuring they have a proper Jewish burial.”  Many rabbis even say that it is the highest mitzvah that you can do, as it is truly selfless, since you know that the deceased will never be able to repay you for this act of kindness.

The more traditional Jewish burials involve filling the grave entirely with large shovels, while Reform or Conservative burials may involve ceremonial earth with small hand shovels. Some families have a tradition somewhere in between that requires ensuring the top of the casket is covered before departing the cemetery. You may have noticed some people using the back of the shovel for at least one of the scoops. Using the back of the shovel shows our reluctance in burying our loved one, that we are differentiating the act from a standard use of a shovel, and that it is not an easy task. Finally, as we place the earth into the grave, we might hear the rabbi recite the words Al mekomo yavo veshalom (for a man) or Al mekomah tavo veshalom (for a woman). This translates to may ________ go to his/her place in peace.

It is so important to care for each other in death as we care for each other in life. The tradition of burying our own is one of healing, and the beginning of a long process of mourning our loved ones. It symbolizes closure, allowing us to move forward into the shiva period and navigate a new world without the deceased. Knowing that we did everything we could to help our loved one transition on to what is next hopefully brings at least a small feeling of comfort.  

Why Advance Planning?

Advance Planning is the number one thing you can do to make the funeral process easier for your family.

Why Advance Planning?

Advance planning allows your family to spend the time after someone’s death focusing on grief and healing, instead of funeral particulars.

What is Advance Planning?

Advance Planning is deciding ahead of time what your wishes are for your funeral or that of a loved one. We are here to make this conversation as easy as possible. There is no obligation to pay anything, and no fee for the appointment.

How does it work?
Simply schedule a time to meet with or speak by phone with one of the funeral directors who specializes in advance planning. When you meet with us face-to-face, we will provide you with a detailed and personalized Pre-Planning Guide that includes all the information regarding your funeral selections, as well as helpful resources to help you get organized and to make the time surrounding the funeral much easier for your family. If you make arrangements with us by phone, we can email you a copy of your Pre-Planning Guide.

Pre-paying comes with the obvious benefit of your family not having to come up with funds or worry about finances while grieving, and we would be happy to discuss our various payment options to pre-pay some or all of the funeral. However, we feel it is most important that you start the process and put your wishes on paper.

To learn more or start filling out a Begin Planning Form, please visit our website. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us or call 410-653-8900.

Family Caregiver Resources

StockSnap_28QNKCAHLMAccording to the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly 72% of families are providing care for adults who are 50 or older. That number will continue to grow as our baby boomer generation ages. Being a caregiver can be a daunting undertaking, but here is an article from Hadassah about the importance of caregivers taking care of themselves. There has even been publicity recently about Millenials becoming caregivers.

Here are some links to some resources that we hope you will find helpful:

Veterans’ Funeral and Burial Benefits

Did you know that there are several benefits that veterans of the United States military are entitled to for their burials? There are both ceremonial and financial benefits available to any veterans that have served our country and were honorably discharged.

You may have attended a funeral that had a flag draped over the casket, heard the moving sounds of a bugler playing Taps at the cemetery, and then witnessed the flag being folded and presented to a mourner on behalf of our grateful country. It can be a powerful and meaningful moment in what is already a very emotional experience.

If you wish have military honors at your own or a loved one’s funeral, all you need to provide to your funeral director is what is known as form DD-214. This form states that the veteran has been honorably discharged from his or her service and is eligible for an honor guard to be present at the funeral. There is no charge for this service and it is something that Levinson’s will coordinate on your behalf with the United States military. If you have already pre-planned your funeral with Levinson’s, we can keep this document on file to present at the time of burial. If you do not have access to the DD-214, you can obtain one by going to this web site or by contacting the National Personnel Records Center at 314-801-0800.

There are also several financial benefits that are provided to veterans for their burials. For example, every veteran who has been honorably discharged (and their spouse) is entitled to a grave at a state veterans cemetery at no charge. The veteran is also entitled to a free lining in the grave, a grave marker, and the opening and closing of the grave at no charge (spouses of veterans are entitled to extreme discounts for these items). Burial at a veterans cemetery does sometimes entail a little bit of a wait for interment and our funeral directors can provide you some information on that. Families of veterans can be reimbursed (up to a certain amount) for the cost of a grave at another cemetery, as well as for some funeral expenses. These amounts vary and to receive them the family must apply directly to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after the veteran’s death by going to their website or calling 1-800-827-1000.

Membership in Jewish War Veterans of America (JWV) also provides benefits. Members of JWV will provide a ceremony (upon request) that involves standing at attention in front of a casket in our chapel, and they will also serve as honorary pallbearers. According to jvw.org “The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is an American Jewish veterans’ organization created in 1896 by Civil War veterans to prove that Jews have proudly served this country since the Revolutionary Era.” The JWV works to help preserve veterans’ healthcare, as well as benefits for their caregivers, and can even help to provide service dogs to veterans in need. For more information about how to join or donate to the JWV please visit their website.

For more information about veterans’ benefits related to the funeral, please give us a call or schedule a time to sit down and speak with one of our funeral directors.