Kavod v’Nichum

7th North American Chevra Kadisha and Jewish Cemetery Conference

Monday June 8, 2009


Ground Burial and Cremation 8:30-noon


“You Shall Surely Bury…”
Deut 21:23


I.   Introduction – Cremation and In-ground burial – Rabbi Stuart Kelman – 5 minutes


II.   Reading Packet review – David Zinner 10 minutes


III. Study - Introductions - Rabbi Stuart Kelman

A.       Torah and Talmud sources – presentation 1 – 10 minutes – Rabbi Josh Strulowitz

          1.          What are the sources that prohibit cremation?

          2.          How important is it to lower costs of funeral and burial?

B.        Hevruta study – 30 minutes

C.       Full group review and summation – 20 minutes

D.       Reform Responsa – presentation 2 – 40 minutes – Rabbi Stephen Pearce

          1.          Why is cremation tolerated in Reform responsa?

E.       Conservative Responsa: How Does It differ from the Orthodox Position - presentation 3 – 15 minutes - Rabbi Chai Levy

          1.          Why is interment of cremains allowed in a Jewish Cemetery?

          2.          Why may a Conservative rabbi officiate at a funeral where the body will later be cremated?


IV.   Current Situation – presentation 4 - 20 minutes -

A.    What is cremation? What are the trends?

B.    What are the reasons Jewish families choose cremation?


V.     On the Ground - What can be done to promote in-ground burial?– presentation 5 - 20 minutes – David Zinner

     A.   Education

1.    Jewish tradition

2.    Environmental Issues - In ground vs. cremation

3.    Communal Participation

     B.   Persuasion

1.    Work with families who want cremation

     C.    Rules

1.    Cemetery

2.    Rabbinic

3.    Chevra Kadisha

4.    Funeral home

     D.    Lower Cost

1.    Funeral contracts

2.    Reduce goods purchased

a. Caskets

b. Liners

3.    Green cemetery

4.    Subsidize costs


VI.   Current status in each Jewish branch - is anybody (O, C, or R's) paying attention to the increasing cremation rates? – 5 minutes - David Zinner

      A.  Feedback from participants  


VII.    Developing next steps – 15 minutes - David Zinner

   A.   Design a public marketing campaign to promote in-ground burial

                1.          Print, media, audio, web, newsletter,

                2.          Available in funeral homes and Jewish cemeteries

                3.          Cost?

   B.    Outreach to gain support and funds      

                1.          to the movements

                2.          to the federations (future health of all Jewish cemeteries)

                3.          to the Jewish cemeteries – JCANA

                4.          to the funeral homes serving Jews – JFDA, IJFD, and others


VIII.       Setting up working groups – 10 minutes


IX.         Campaign Launch Date – June 2010?