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I'm Kevin Gray, President of Star of David Memorial Chapels. Welcome to our casket room. This is not the most pleasant place to be, but unfortunately, it's part of the funeral arranging process, and we need to come down here to choose a casket. Now, let's talk a little bit about caskets for people of the Jewish faith.

In these rooms, we have caskets that are made to conform with Jewish tradition. What does that mean? It means they're made of wood with no metal. It could be the simplest pine box, which we have in that room, which we'll show you in a moment. It could be something way more elaborate like a casket made of solid cherry wood. The difference, the cost, that's all it is. The idea of a casket is basically a vehicle to place your loved one in, for the purpose of a ceremony and a burial.

It doesn't matter what kind of casket you choose, the idea of a casket is to be buried in the ground, and go back to earth. So, when we bring a family down to this room, we emphasize a few things. Number one, be smart. Yes, it's an emotional time, you wanna choose something that you think is going to be appropriate, but we also try to remind people that the funeral process is very expensive. The more you spend on a casket, the larger the casket bill is going to be, and we want you to think through very clearly if that's important.

To us it doesn't matter in the least, we want our families to pick appropriately. That's another reason why we'll be talking about at some point the advantages of planning in advance, where you can take some of the emotion out of this process. But going back to here, so when we buy a casket from a manufacturer, the cost of the casket is based upon how elaborate the casket is, how much it costs to make. For example, a casket like this, which is solid cherry wood, which has all of these features like inlay corners, embroidery, and polish finish, that's going to add up to thousands of dollars as opposed to the simplest pine box casket.

What's the difference? There is no difference other than this casket's going to cost way less than that casket. In this room, caskets have different features. They're made mostly of popular wood, but they all consist of the following feature. They're made of wood with no metal, hinges, latches, all wood, glue. The reason being that the belief through Halakhah, or Jewish tradition, is that nothing should delay the inevitable where the casket's going back to the earth as quickly as possible, as are the remains inside the casket.

So, again, no difference between a pine box, a much more elaborate casket like this other than what you're going to pay. Keep this in mind, we have many families that come here that have plenty of money, yet they will choose only the plain pine box. The reason being is they're of the belief that it's simple, it's the appropriate Jewish way. We have people that come here that have no money, that are compelled out of guilt to buy a much more expensive casket.

In this room, we have what are considered the more exotic caskets, meaning they're made out of more precious woods like cherry, mahogany, oak, another one oak, solid maple. And just to give you an idea of why certain things cost more than others, aside from the cost of the wood itself, it's the workmanship.

Now, this casket, for example, the cherry, it's beautiful wood, polish finish, inlaid corners. It does look like it should be even more money than it is as compared to this casket, which is twice as much as this one. Why? Because this is made of African ribbon grain mahogany.

What does that mean? Nothing really, other than it's made of African ribbon grain mahogany. It's the same wood that you'd make a piano out of. And the workmanship regarding the upper rail, the base mold, all of these rounded edges that have to be glued and wooden doweled, as opposed to a casket that would be made of metal, this all adds to the cost to the manufacturer and ultimately the cost for us to buy and the cost for you to buy.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Gray, President of Star of David Memorial Chapels. Today I'd like to talk about funeral costs. Funerals are expensive, there's no question about it. A funeral home provides a very important service at a very difficult time, and it provides a level of comfort if done correctly for a family. However, it has to be kept in mind that a funeral home is still a business.

Typically, a funeral service operates out of a very expensive building like the one we're sitting in. It's extremely costly to maintain between fixed costs like staff, insurance, vehicles, building maintenance, and taxes, being available to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only way for a funeral home to survive is to build these fixed costs into every service that we provide, combined with the cost associated with the funeral that are not even the funeral home's fees. For example, the cost to open a grave at the cemetery or even to acquire a grave and open it. The cost for clergy, what might appear to be a small and basic service can quickly add up, costing over $10,000 or more.

Keeping things simple, perhaps choosing the least expensive casket can help defray the total cost, but you still need to be prepared that even doing this will still result in probably more than you were expecting to pay. Just as an example, a simple graveside service using a plain pine box, adding in the cost for the cemetery, etc. can easily run over $10,000 and will be significantly more if you decide that you need a casket that's a lot more expensive, or limousines, placing a notice in a newspaper, not to mention at some point a headstone or footstone and perhaps perpetual care of the grave must be considered. This is why we recommend prearrangements, so you have time to prepare both emotionally and financially.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Gray, president of Star of David Memorial Chapels. Today, I'd like to talk a bit about cremation. Cremation is a tricky topic to discuss when it comes to Jewish tradition. It's regarded as taboo in the Jewish religion as it's considered a desecration of the body created by God, yet some Jewish people are choosing it anyway.

If you've decided that cremation is the best choice for you or a loved one, we ask that you keep a few things in mind. If you're choosing it because you think it's better for the environment, it's not, especially when compared to a Jewish burial. You may have heard of a movement towards green burial where there's no embalming, caskets are biodegradable, and there's nothing to harm the environment. Well, that's basically what a Jewish burial is. The difference is that a Jewish burial takes place in a cemetery, and a permanent stone or marker is erected rather than in a forest or someplace that's designated for green burial. Cremation, on the other hand, is a violent incineration of the body, and the energy that's used for the retort, which is the oven that the cremation is done in, along with emissions into the environment, are significantly more detrimental to the environment.

If you still choose cremation, there are different options to be aware of. First, there's immediate cremation where there's no ceremony. Here we're instructed to transfer the deceased to our chapel, shelter the remains until permits are secured, and then take the deceased to the crematory for cremation. Ashes are returned to the family a few days later. Some families choose to have a service beforehand with the decedent present in a casket appropriate for cremation. The service takes place, and instead of going to the cemetery afterwards, the deceased is taken to the crematory. Many families choose this option as it affords the opportunity for a dignified service beforehand rather than just a disposal like immediate cremation.

The third option is a direct immediate or immediate cremation where there's no service beforehand, but the family chooses to have us conduct a memorial service in our chapel, either with or without the ashes present. If the situation is such where cremation has been chosen because of monetary limitations, we're always here to help figure out a way to do a burial in an affordable manner.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Gray, president of Star of David Memorial Chapels. Today I'd like to talk about pre-arrangement, specifically the difference between a revocable pre-arrangement and an irrevocable pre-arrangement. When someone writes a pre-arranged funeral in New York State, it's typically defaulted to what's considered revocable. What that means is any plans that are made can be changed. Any monies paid in advance can be refunded if services aren't used, if families moved away and doesn't require our services anymore. All monies paid in, all interests that accumulated gets returned to the family. If, however, the person being planned for is a Medicaid applicant or recipient, the plan has to be written in what's known as irrevocable form. What that means is the same concept of planning in advance, paying in advance, the difference being if changes are made, monies can never be refunded back to the family. The reason for this is a protection of Medicaid's interests.

Years ago, people would put a plan in place to shelter money from Medicaid only to make changes at the last minute looking for a refund, basically defrauding Medicaid. So Medicaid changed the rules. If someone is going to receive the benefits of Medicaid, they're allowed as a strategy to put a plan in place to shelter the assets of the person being prepared for. However, that sheltering means they can never pull any money out. Although you can change the components of the service, you can add things to it. There's no refunds whatsoever. When someone is considered a Medicaid applicant or recipient it's an advice strategy by elder care planners that a funeral arrangement be put in place. Doing so shelters money that when Medicaid takes a five-year look back at where funds went for the person who's the applicant or recipient, funds earmarked for a funeral arrangement are considered non-countable assets and can never penalize a family for having spent money. That's one of the reasons why when we put a plan in place for someone that's irrevocable, we'll make suggestions like factoring in all of the anticipated costs associated with the funeral, aside from our fees. For example, the fees for a headstone, the fees for perpetual care at the cemetery.
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