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The Final Talk – Cremation

Hi, I’m Kevin Gray, president of Star of David 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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