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Yom Chamishi, 5 Kislev 5778

tapwrapChevra Kadisha of Northern Arizona

The Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society) of Northern Arizona is an independent, non-profit organization serving Jewish families across the region. We encourage families to follow Jewish practices when a loved one dies.

Our group was started by a small group of Temple members who saw and felt the need for these services in our community.

The Chevra Kadisha of Northern Arizona was created by a group of B'rith Shalom members who felt end-of-life Jewish rituals should be made available to any Jewish person in the area. In recent years, these rituals have become more a part of the practice of liberal Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist) across the United States. Indeed, a national organization has been formed to provide a network of contacts with other groups, as well as an annual conference for training and networking.

Volunteers for our Chevra Kadisha have been drawn from the congregation, and rabbis who have served the congregation have all been supportive of this work. We meet at the temple and are all temple members, but we serve
any Jewish family in the area.

Templepeople11Our trained volunteers come from, and serve families from, across the Jewish spectrum. The dignity and wishes of the deceased and family guide us in adapting ancient rituals for modern times—for those being interred or those choosing cremation.

What do we do? Our regular services involve performing the Tahara ritual (washing and clothing the body), facilitating Shomrim (people who sit quietly with the body until burial), and counseling family members regarding the options available to them at funeral homes and from the Chevra Kadisha itself. Over the years circumstances arose that sometimes led members of the Chevra Kadisha to officiate at funerals.

The first and only independent Chevra Kadisha in the state, we've served families across Arizona. We have performed our services in Sedona and in the Phoenix area. Our members have addressed national conferences, nurses, and hospice groups. We've trained volunteers and advised others interested in establishing their own groups. Since 2004 we have become a national model for others, both in the Reform Movement and in the larger Jewish community.

The Chevra Kadisha is a non-profit organization supported entirely by tax-deductible donations. Donations are needed to purchase supplies and meet other expenses. If you would like to make a donation, please make your check payable to the Chevra Kadisha of Northern Arizona and send it to Temple B'rith Shalom, 2077 Brohner Way, Prescott, AZ 86301.

The Talmud tells us "If one makes lament, others will lament for him; if one assists at burial, others will bury him; if one carries the bier, others will carry him. But if one prepares the body for burial, the Holy One, Blessed be He, smiles and says, 'This suffices.' " (Maod Katan 28b)

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