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.
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.
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).