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First Steps

First Steps2018-07-12T10:53:05+00:00
First Steps Gravestones

Contact Bet-Olam Jewish funerals (24 hour contact 9883-6237).

Bet-Olam will make arrangements with you to care for and prepare the body of your loved one for the funeral.

Bet-Olam will also facilitate all paperwork, legal documentation and bookings, and will liaise with the cemetery, doctors and coroner as needed. Bet-Olam’s many years of experience helps to take all the uncertainty and worry from you and will guide you gently through this very difficult time.

Timing Of The Funeral Service

Jewish tradition is to bury your loved one without undue delay, taking legal and logistical considerations into account. This tradition is out of respect to the deceased, as well as providing a psychological benefit to the mourners, who do not have to undergo the emotional pain of an extended delay. Setting the time of the funeral requires coordination with the family as well as the Rabbi, the Funeral Director, and the Cemetery. Bet-Olam we will look after this for you.

Burial

Based on the biblical verse “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19), traditional Jewish funerals have been burial in the earth.

Cemeteries

Except under the most unusual circumstances, burial takes place only in ground which has been formally set aside for Jewish use. The Jewish Memorial Garden in Springvale Botanical Cemetery is most commonly used by Bet-Olam Jewish Funerals. Other sites for Jewish burial are found at the Melbourne General Cemetery, Fawkner Cemetery and the Chevra Kadisha Cemeteries.

Chapel or Graveside

Most burial services are held at the graveside, unless there is a specific reason to have the ceremony in a chapel. All those present at the interment are invited to place earth on the casket. Jewish tradition considers this a chesed shel emet, (a true deed of loving kindness), because it is something the deceased cannot ask mourners to do for them, cannot repay the favour, or say ‘thank you’ to those who attend. This becomes the ultimate, unselfish act of love and kindness.

Cremation

For various reasons, some people prefer cremation, though it is not accepted by Jewish tradition. If the deceased or the deceased’s family choose cremation, Bet-Olam will honour this decision.

Cremation services are often conducted in our Bet-Olam ohel (chapel) on the corner of Glenhuntly and Kooyong Roads, in Elsternwick, or, for large funerals, at Springvale. The ceremony is the same Jewish service that would be done at a burial.

Following a cremation, the ashes are available within a few days. There are plots in the Jewish section of Springvale Botanical Gardens specifically set aside for the interment of cremated remains, and these can be faced with a flat memorial plaque.

Questions regarding these matters should be addressed to one of our Rabbis or to Bet-Olam Jewish Funerals.

Organ Donation

In Jewish law, organ donations are not only permitted, but are considered a mitzvah or a moral obligation. In donating organs the donor may save lives, and this imperative supercedes all other considerations.

Check with one of our Rabbis for guidance.

K’riah

The rending of the mourners’ clothing, k’riah, on hearing the news of their loss, symbolises the tearing of their heart. Over time, this has become formalised into cutting an outer garment, or even pinning on and cutting a piece of ribbon. When one is mourning for parents, k’riah is performed on the left side, over the heart. When mourning for children, siblings and spouses, it is done on the right side.

The Funeral Service

The Jewish funeral is commonly called in Hebrew levayah, meaning “an accompanying”. We accompany your loved one on their journey out of this life and beyond the boundary of death; as well as accompanying the mourners back from the edge of death into a new stage of life, which lacks the physical presence of the person who has died.

The service includes poems, psalms and prayers, including Psalms 23, 36 and 121, the memorial prayer El Male Rachamim, (God, full of compassion) and the mourners Kaddish. English is used as well as Hebrew, so that all may understand and participate.

The Eulogy or Hesped

A eulogy cannot possibly summarise the totality of your loved one’s life. Rather, it is a moment to remember, to cherish a few anecdotes, and to celebrate their life. The Rabbi may be the primary speaker, or on occasion the family or close friends may be invited to write a eulogy and to share it at the funeral or at the minyan (a short evening service after the funeral). The most poignant and moving eulogies tend to be those filled with personal anecdotes and memories.

Meals of Consolidation

The mourners’ first meal after returning from the cemetery (seudat havra’ah) is often provided by friends, neighbours, or a synagogue committee. The meal generally includes hard-boiled eggs (which symbolise the potential for renewal) or other round objects such as olives or dates, symbolising the wheel or cycle of life, continuity, and the need to move on. This symbolism may also be found in the food sometimes brought or provided after an evening service (minyan).