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Home  »  Los Angeles Chevra Kadisha, Funeral and Cemetery Issues

Eden Memorial Park Class Action


The Court has scheduled a trial of this matter for December 2011.

Cemetery Abuses

August 2011

SAN BERNARDINO: Oldest Jewish cemetery tinged with murder

Wolff Cohn was the first man to be laid to rest at the Home of Eternity.

He was buried in January 1862, one day after a man identified as Dick Cole gunned him down in Cohn’s clothing and dry goods store.


August 20, 2011

Did Winehouse’s funeral violate Jewish law?


Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, Executive Vice President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, …explained why the cremation was unusual.
…cremation, …”it’s clearly prohibited in Jewish tradition.” The reason: Jews believe they were created in the image of God, and should return to God as intact as possible-no embalming, even, if possible.

In fact, the rabbi says, the issue is considered so serious that, even if a Jewish person expresses a preference for cremation in a will, “you are able to, and often even encouraged to, disregard that directive.”

That said, well, we’re living in 2011-“the modern world,” Diamond says.  “An increasingly significant number of Jews are choosing cremation. It’s not something I would encourage, but we live as a part of the world.”


July 26, 2011

Shiva Sisters offer kind words, practical help for Jewish families at times of loss


The Shiva Sisters are two women, [Danna] Black and Allison Moldo, who have started an event planning business with an unusual focus.

They deal with death – specifically, Jewish mourning – with an only-in-L.A. panache. They arrange catering, equipment rentals and general assistance for after-funeral gatherings, including valet parking, video production, personal shopping and – there is no better way to say it – Jewish mothering.


March 20, 2011

Drawing Near

Rabbi Anne Brener – purification/realignment (taharah) needed for those whose challenges have set them aside from the community (tamai) so they can again find proximity to God (korbon).


April 13, 2010

No proof of grave desecration at Jewish cemetery

State regulators have found no evidence of grave desecrations at Eden Memorial Park,

Cemetery Abuses

November 12, 2009

California cemetery accused of desecrating remains

alleges that employees at Eden Memorial Park …, desecrated the remains of deceased individuals ….

Cemetery Abuses

September 11, 2009

Donation of Organs Has Support of Most Rabbis

Thomas D. Mone is chief executive officer of OneLegacy, the organ procurement organization serving Los Angeles County and six other Southern California counties.

Organ Donation

March 11, 2009

Checklist: What to do when someone dies

Jewish Cemeteries and Mortuaries in Los Angeles


August 7, 2008

The High Cost of Dying

In Southern California, the Board of Rabbis’ Funeral Practices Committee works with clergy, funeral industry representatives and the Jewish community to set standards, address issues and, as best as possible, nurture “a sacred and positive spirit of cooperation,” according the committee’s mission statement.

…the committee has set a standard honorarium of $500 for unaffiliated families to pay ordained rabbis for officiating at Jewish funerals. The committee is also looking into the status and condition of various distressed or closed local Jewish cemeteries, among other priorities.

…estimated costs for a traditional Jewish funeral range roughly from $3,500 to $4,500, including the casket …  the price for a single plot can range from around $2,000 in some cemeteries to as high as $35,000.


August 7, 2008

Trendy, traditional and taboo: An incomplete guide to Jewish funerals and burial

Historically, each community’s holy society, or chevra kadisha took on the responsibility of caring for the deceased…Over the years, the non-Orthodox community has relinquished this obligation to the care of strangers.


August 6, 2008

Kids Learn Burial Rites From Barney

“Even under the shock and duress, the fact that we’d gone through that program, made the process somewhat more manageable and less difficult,” he says. “As a part of Jewish education and life experience, I now feel that it’s almost essential.”


May 4, 2006

‘Under’s’ Rabbinic Supervision

oloway interviewed Jewish thanatologists and asked Missaghieh how she prepares for funerals and approaches suicides


April 11, 2002

Careless Undertaking

ewish cemeteries are not subject to [California] state licensing and enforcement regulations. Although DCA monitors all California funeral homes and mortuaries, including Jewish ones, religious cemeteries are not regulated by the state.

Cemetery Abuses

January 10, 2002

Putting Jewish Burial Concerns to Rest

The largest Jewish cemetery in the Western states, twice the size of its sister in the Hollywood Hills, opened two weeks ago in eastern Ventura County.


June 27, 2000

A Mortuary Comes to Life

the RCC is now spearheading a community effort that will make tahara more widely available to Jews in Los Angeles. The Chesed Shel Emes Society of L.A., a corps of some 125 volunteers who will perform tahara for free upon request, should be up and running in May, said Rabbi Yakov Krause of Young Israel of Hancock Park,

Funeral Home Abuses

April 29, 1999

Chevra Kadisha

n regard to “Mortuary Troubles”(Jan. 2), I want to relieve many fears that members of the community may have in regard to a shortage of volunteers to perform the taharah (ritual purification of the remains)and shmira (staying with the deceased in the mortuary and reciting prayers for the decedent’s soul from the book of Psalms).

Chevra kadisha is simply a generic term for the thousands of volunteers worldwide who perform this most important act of taking care of the dead for proper Jewish burial. Los Angeles used to have a volunteer chevra kadisha some 20 years ago, until the name was incorporated into a for-profit mortuary.

With nearly a dozen Jewish mortuaries in Los Angeles County alone, there are enough people to handle this most important religious requirement.

Sholom Chapels Mortuaries have always had the requisite staff members that are able to perform these services. We offer these services to the community with the reassurance that the Jewish dead will be taken care of properly.

Know that there are enough mortuaries, with enough chevra kadisha staff members to handle the services for our communities.

Moe GoldsmanMortuary Manager
Sholom Chapels Mortuaries
Los Angeles


January 29, 1998

Mortuary Troubles

Regarding your article on Chevra Kadisha Mortuary’s founder and director, Zelman Manela, being sentenced to two years in prison for stealing thousands of dollars from a deceased woman, then forging documents that gave him power of attorney over her estate (“Mortuary Troubles,” Jan. 2). Even more loathsome than Manela’s crime is the almost total silence of the organized Orthodox community about the ethical aspects of the matter.

Rabbis are worried about the future of the mortuary and about Los Angeles not having a corps of volunteers to perform tahara (ritual care of the dead). Other rabbis defend Manela because he donated thousands of dollars to charity each year. At his sentencing hearing in Van Nuys, about 60 observant Jews cried, prayed, and read psalms. Two Rabbis urged the judge to grant Manela probation and community service. A third fasted on the day of the hearing, and described Manela as a “selfless individual” who was quick to take out the garbage or fix a clogged sink at shul. He added: “There is shame about what Zelman did, but there is also tremendous pride in who he is.” OK, who is he? And what is he?

Memo to the organized Orthodox community: Before condemning the rest of us, proclaiming to the world that we Conservative and Reform Jews are not “real” Jews, clean up your own house. Or maybe it would be more apropos to say, “Religious physicians, heal thine selves.”

David R. Moss


Funeral Home Abuses

Jan 15, 1998


L.A. mortuary director gets a two-year prison term

The mortuary, though a religious nonprofit organization, was not a true chevra kadishah or burial society, which traditionally provides a corps of volunteers who perform taharah, the ritual care of the dead.

Unlike many other cities, Los Angeles does not have a volunteer, community-run chevra kadishah,

Funeral Home Abuses

January 9, 1998

Beth Olam Cemetery

Thank you very much for your articles about the state of Beth Olam Cemetery. Nobody was aware that it was in danger of being padlocked, abandoned, and subsequently available for vandalism and scavengers. To those many of us who have close relatives interred there and have paid for graves in advance, this was traumatic news.

It seems that this plight of the cemetery had gone on for a year and a half but the trustees did not inform anyone. Thanks to your articles, my son and I were able to attend a hearing in federal court, and since then, we have learned that the cemetery has found a worthy buyer. There is also an effort to have it declared a historic city site.

Mrs. Richard Maibaum
Pacific Palisade


January 15, 1998


Beth Olam Cemetery

Beth Olam is the Jewish section of Hollywood Memorial Park… is in bankruptcy and repeated attempts to find a new owner have so far failed


November 20, 1997

Dignity in Death

Dear Deborah,
I am old and live alone. I am too uncomfortable to wear anything when I sleep, but when I die, I don’t want to be found nude. I’m sure that many women share this fear. Is there a solution?


Dear Grateful,
First of all, it is essential that you be as comfortable as possible while you are alive. This means that should you pass away during the night, you may be found nude; however, if you have done some planning, you will remain so only for a brief moment, and treated with the utmost dignity.

Rabbi Zalman Manela at the Chevra Kadisha, the Orthodox burial society, as well as Ms. Fran Krimston of Hillside Memorial in Los Angeles agreed that if you make advance plans with a Jewish funeral home, you will immediately be wrapped in a white shroud.

Rabbi Perry Netter of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles addressed the issue of modesty by explaining that Tahara, the ritual washing in preparation for the burial, is performed by women for women. At the end of the ritual, the woman leading Tahara states that she has prepared the deceased according to the laws of our people, and then asks forgiveness if, in any way, the deceased has been embarrassed or offended by the process.

If, as you say, you are alone, you must also consider who will find you. It is imperative that you have a female friend, relative or landlord who checks in on you regularly, who is aware of your plans and wishes.

Finally, you might consider leaving, on your night stand or some other prominent spot, a well-marked letter that includes the phone number and address of your contact person and your specifications and plans in case someone other than your friend finds you.

Thank you for your letter. May you find comfort in the fact that you have helped to clear up the mystery for many others in your situation. *

Deborah Berger-Reiss is a West Los Angeles psychotherapist.


May 1, 1997