Darkhei Noam offers a variety of communal services for members of our congregation who have suffered a loss in their family.
Our Chevra Kadisha is available to perform taharot, using the facilities at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel on 91st street. If you need the services of the Darkhei Noam Chevra Kadisha, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our Caring Community Initiative, members of the Darkhei Noam community are also available to assist families with preparing for a funeral, conducting the service if need be, and to facilitate minyanim and meals during shiva. Please email email@example.com if you are in need of such services.
Background on Chevrot Kadisha and Darkhei Noam’s Approach
Genesis 4:8 relates that “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8). The Midrash explains that Adam and Eve, walking nearby, discovered Abel’s body exposed in the field and did not know what to do. Nearby a raven was seen digging up the earth to bury its own dead, and following this example, Adam and Eve buried their son.
Jewish tradition understands the human body as the receptacle in which the Almighty places the soul, and which retains its sanctity even after the soul departs, much as a Torah scroll retains its holiness even after it is no longer usable. Care, consideration and respect must be accorded the dead as they are prepared, attended and escorted to their final resting place. Indeed, since ancient times, Jewish law has stipulated the obligation of towns or villages to bury the dead that extends (see: the egla arufa discussion in Deut. 21:1-9) even to passers-by who die outside their immediate borders.
In the Middle Ages, European Jewish communities established a separate Tahara House at their cemeteries where the deceased were prepared for dignified burial. The first formal chevra kadisha within Ashkenazi Jewry was established in Prague under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi in 1564, and the first chevra in America, known as Chesed V’Emet, was formed in New York in 1802. In our day, notwithstanding the existence of organizations serving the broader Jewish community, various individual kehilot and synagogues have elected to “take care of their own” and have organized their own chevrot kadisha reflecting the particular customs and values of the community.
The specific rules and regulations that govern preparation and burial of the deceased, much of which are based in minhag, i.e. custom, are widely scattered in halakhic literature. Customs have been transmitted from generation to generation, varying frequently in some detail from country to country, and from community to community. The objective of Darkhei Noam, under the guidance of our halakhic advisor, Rabbi Daniel Sperber, has been to establish a chevra kadisha for our own kehilah that will function in a manner consistent with halakhaand established minhag Yisrael and also reflects the particular character and values of the Darkhei Noam community.
It is our fervent desire that the members of the Darkhei Noam community and their families be spared the need to call upon the services of our Chevra Kadisha. But we also pray that if and when the need does arise, that burials conducted through our Chevra will be carried out with the proper degree of sensitivity and dignity, in accordance with Torah law and the customs and values of our community, and in a manner that helps bring comfort to those who mourn.