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The Final Talk – Caskets

I’m Kevin Gray, President of Star of David 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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