As the West Coast director of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK) headed by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, and Director of Project Inspire Arizona, Mrs. Robin Meyerson has no shortage of sagas to share about educating the unaffiliated regarding the importance of Jewish burial.
Mrs. Meyerson is involved in training Jews of all ages and backgrounds, hospice workers, nurses, Rabbis and Rebbetzins because unfortunately, half of American Jews are choosing cremation due to a lack of education on this important end-of-life choice. There are 50 known cremations of Jews per day in America – almost 20,000 per year. 75% of Jews on the West Coast of the USA are choosing cremation. In some European countries, 80-90 percent are choosing cremation.
Should you face a similar situation, there are several educational and financial resources available to help guide a family towards burial. For emergency assistance, contact Robin Meyerson at 602-469-1606 or Robin@peacefulreturn.org 24 by 6. Or contact Rav Elchonon Zohn of the National Association of Chevrah Kaddisha at 718-849-9700.
The soul suffers tremendously when there is a cremation (Zohar). The soul is at peace only when the body is buried. A burial versus cremation curriculum with multiple Torah sources can be downloaded here.
There is a lot of work to do because many non-Orthodox Jewish mortuaries offer both burial and cremation and Jewish cemeteries offer burial of ashes and internment in mausoleums, all of which are against halacha. The unaffiliated Jewish consumer, emotional and distraught over the death of their loved ones – whose funerals are not pre-planned can’t think straight. They are given options for burial or cremation by non-Orthodox rabbis, mortuaries and cemeteries.
Fortunately, the concerned kiruv worker can access resources to assist in pre-planning, including filling out a free and legal burial wishes form, watching short videos in English and Russian on www.peacefulreturn.org or delivering a PowerPoint presentation that can be downloaded and personalized here. In addition, several free brochures are available by mail or can be downloaded at www.peacefulreturn.org.
Teaching about prayer, marrying Jewish, kashrus, Shabbos and family purity might be more at the top of an educator’s syllabus. Nevertheless, whereas teaching about death and the afterlife might be uncomfortable, the eternal kindness and imperative of burial for the soul is paramount since cremation can’t be undone. In fact, putting on an afterlife presentation can actually draw in many more participants than other topics and can be a list builder. Case in point: Project Inspire recently featured Rabbi Doron Kornbluth and Robin Meyerson presenting a two-part Zoom series on the afterlife that were attended by over 6,000 participants.
Robin Meyerson recently published the third edition of a book on miracle afterlife stories called, From this World to the Next with Rosally Saltsman.
In addition, the book I Lost Someone Special, is a children’s book that even adults find comforting, with the endorsement of Chai Life Line, that has been donated to one hundred families impacted by the recent Surfside, Florida tragedy.
A curriculum for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade is also available to teach families what they can do when they lose a loved one and can be reviewed here.
Cremation or Burial? A Jewish View is a must read by Rabbi Doron Kornbluth as it is a highly effective book for Jews of all backgrounds and a must-read for anyone involved in Kiruv. If you are interested in ordering discounted quantities of the book, contact Rabbi Kornbluth at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book covers the myths and facts people come up with in choosing cremation over burial and how to persuade a Jewish loved one to choose burial instead of believing the myths of cremation.
Hopefully, with rabbis, educators and mekarvim teaching the Jewish perspective on death, the afterlife, burial and cremation, everyone will choose Jewish burial.