Resolution on Hevra Kadisha

Posted on: Tuesday March 26, 2019

Whereas in the traumatic aftermath of the October 27 Tree of Life synagogue shooting many Rabbinical Assembly colleagues have been deeply engaged in guiding the Pittsburgh Jewish community through the mitzvot of bikkur holim and nihum aveilim and

Whereas the Pittsburgh shooting aftermath demonstrated the important role played by the Hevra Kadisha in providing physical care for the bodies of the deceased, through the traditional Jewish practice of taharah, including prayer, washing, and purification performed through the actions of community members; and

Whereas the Hevra Kadisha provides comfort and support to the families who are mourning, and offers the entire community a meaningful way to demonstrate their caring through support of the Hevra Kadisha and

Whereas the experience of Hevra Kadisha work and participating in shmirah, ritual guarding of the body of the deceased, can transform lives, providing a profound emotional and spiritual experience, enabling us to see the world differently, to live more fully, and to appreciate this most amazing gift that God gave us – life; and

Whereas participation in the work of the Hevra Kadisha builds solidarity in each Jewish community and interdependence of all of the community and synagogue members;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage its members:

  • to establish Hevra Kadisha in our communities, if there is none yet, and to strengthen such institutions if they already exist; and

  • that, in communities that have the blessing of more than one Hevra Kadisha, clergy and other Jewish leadership work to build a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect among the groups; and

  • that clergy and other Jewish leadership educate their communities about all the aspects of the richness of traditional Jewish practices at the end of life and encourage participation in any point on the continuum between bikkur holim and nihum aveilim, and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly commit to creating a place on its website and provide periodic training to serve as resources for its members in both creation of a Hevra Kadisha and education.