Questions we are most frequently asked

Tuesday, December 11

The following are the questions we are most frequently asked by the families we assist:

Q: Whom do we call when our loved one passes away?
A: Depending upon where someone passes away determines who should be called. You can always call us first for guidance but, if a loved one dies at home without being under hospice care, you first need to call 911 who dispatches paramedics to pronounce passing. They arrive along with police and work with the medical examiner to obtain release of the remains to a funeral home. If they cannot, in a reasonable amount of time, reach a physician that had been caring for the deceased, the medical examiner will transfer the decedent to their offices and investigate the cause and manner of death. This might include a request for autopsy which may be refused on religious grounds.

If the decedent was at home under hospice care, hospice will need to be called. They will dispatch a nurse to pronounce passing and request the phone number of the funeral home you have chosen so that they can call to have the decedent transferred.

If someone passes away in a facility such as a nursing home or hospital, the facility will typically reach out to the funeral home that the family has requested they call.

Q: Who contacts the cemetery?
A: It is our responsibility to contact the cemetery to order and schedule the grave opening. If any permits need to be secured from a burial society or synagogue, we do that as well

Q: Who comes to pick up the body?
A: Once we are notified that a death has occurred, we will dispatch our directors to make the transfer of the decedent into our care at the chapel

Q: Who prepares the body?
A: We will prepare the deceased in accordance to Jewish tradition which means we do not embalm. Instead the deceased is disinfected, bathed and dressed. If a family wants to follow true Jewish tradition, we contact the Chevra Kadisha to perform the ceremonial washing known as Tahara. This takes place in our mikvah, located in our preparation room.

Q: How soon after our loved one dies do we have the service?
A: It depends upon your beliefs and personal concerns. A truly observant family will do whatever it takes to have the service conducted no later than the following day as their belief is that the soul has separated from the body that housed it and needs to ascend to heaven as quickly as possible but cannot ascend until the body is buried. Someone less observant might have heard that the Jewish religion calls for prompt burial but may not know the reason for doing so. Because we usually do not know in advance what a family’s wishes might be, we assume they will want it sooner rather than later and prepare accordingly. If the family wants a service immediately, we are ready. If they would like to wait to ensure family members who need to arrange for travel back to NY, then we will wait.

Q: Do we need to come to the funeral home to make the arrangements?
A: There’s no need to have the arrangements made in person. We arrange many funerals over the telephone, by email, and using our website to choose a casket. If the family wishes that their loved one be buried in their own clothing instead of the traditional burial garment known as a shroud, we will pick up the clothing from the family. If that is not feasible, the family can overnight the clothing to us.

Q: How do we choose a casket?
A: Caskets may be chosen from our website of, if preferred, a family may come to our funeral home and see them in person in our selection room.

Q: What does all of this cost?
A: The cost of a funeral depends upon choices made regarding the specifics of the service. All of our prices are published both on our website and through our GPL (General Price List). Keep in mind that the cost of a funeral includes not only the funeral home’s fees for handling matters, but the disbursements to others that we make on your behalf. These typically include the cemetery fee for opening the grave, clergy honoraria, certified death certificates and gratuities.

Q: What types of payments do you accept?
A: Personal check, bank check, credit card or cash.

Q: Can we bring in photos?
A: More and more families are bringing in photos. They can be placed throughout the lobby and chapel or they may be made into a slide show and displayed on the screen in our lobby

Q: Can we put things in the casket?
A: You can put basically whatever you wish in the casket: Photos, letter, drawings, little things that were important to the deceased, etc. This is typically done when a family arrives at our chapel prior to the service. If you prefer, we can place items in the casket for you.

Q: Are flowers allowed?
A: Flowers are allowed but are frowned upon in the Jewish religion. They constitute an ostentatious display which goes against tradition.

Q: Can we bring music or can it be played?
A: Yes. You can bring in a CD or ask us to develop a playlist via Spotify, an online application

Q: Do you provide a rabbi?
A: If you need us to assist in securing a rabbi, we will do that for you. We cull from a short list of rabbi’s that will not profess to have known the decedent. Rather they will learn of them from the family, characterize what they have learned, and recite the appropriate prayers. We encourage family members, if able to do so, to speak. Our rabbi’s will listen carefully to a family’s wishes.

Q: Do you provide the chairs for shiva?
A: We can provide either actual shiva chairs or corrugated shiva boxes.

Q: Do we have to place a notice in the newspaper?
A: There is no obligation to do so. In the past, a notice in the newspaper to spread the word of a death was frequently chosen. Today, many families choose to spread the word of someone’s passing via social media

Q: Do you provide limousines if we want them?
A: we can provide either a standard funeral limousine(s) which hold 6-7 people or a Mercedes Sprinter Coach that holds up to 14 passengers and allows for everyone to be together.

Q: Do the limo’s pick us up at home and return us there?
A: Yes. They can make as many stops along the way as you need.

Q: Does the casket need to be a plain pine box?
A: If you are truly observant, a plain pine box is the appropriate casket. That said, many of our families choose caskets other than a plain pine box as long as they adhere to Halachic law, meaning that they are made of wood and free of metal. All of the caskets we regularly offer conform to this tradition.

Q: What’s the difference in price between a graveside service and having a service in your chapel first?
A: The fee for a service conducted in one of our chapels is only $500 more than a graveside service.

Q: Our loved one is out of state? How do we arrange to get them to NY?
A: Simply call us. We handle all matters from start to finish. We reach out to a colleague in whichever area (in the United States) death has occurred who, at our direction, handle local transfer, securing of permits for travel, and transfer to the airport. The deceased is flown in an airline approved transfer case. We are awaiting arrival at the airport here in NY and then carry out whatever type of service the family has requested. The process of transfer from out of state usually takes place within 24 hours (the west coast might take an extra day or two).

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