How a Planned Cremation was Changed to a Proper Jewish Burial

By Miriam Sidell
This post is a follow up to a Question of the week from Dec 2, 2008 titled How Can I Prevent a Cremation?

This is the story of how a planned cremation was changed to a proper Jewish burial, chasdei Hashem. Two years ago when my grandmother passed away at the age of 100 and had a proper, preplanned Jewish burial, my parents informed me that they had prepaid for cremations for when their time would come. Both my sister and I were shocked and totally distraught over this. We tried to change our parents’ view about this, but were not successful. We brought it up several times over the next two years but couldn’t seem to change their minds. My sister finally told our Dad several more ideas about the issue ,and asked him not to answer, but to just think about it. (Which he did: for several months.) This was shortly after Pesach when I last visited our Mom. Fast forward to Shavous, when a dear friend of our family, an older Russian man who davened at Rabbi Taub’s shul was nifter.

I attended his levaya the Sunday right after Shavuous. As there were only a few women there, I was asked to help the almonah tear kriah, which I did. The kevurah was at a bais olam where Rebbetzin Taub (who was nifteress in 1964) was buried. I had heard that she was a big tzadekes (righteous woman) . After the kevurah, I decided to go to her kever. There I davened fervently to Hashem that my mother (who had been quite ill for the past 3 years; the doctor saying she could pass at any time) would merit a kevura according to halacha when the time would come.

That Friday, my mom was moved to a hospice in Florida, where she lived. I spoke to her erev Shabbos and told her I loved her. She sounded very weak but was able to speak to me. Shortly before Shabbos, my father called my sister and said that he thought about what she told him, and decided that he was willing for our mom to have a Jewish burial in Baltimore when the time would come. My sister then called me, and as soon as I heard the news, a tremendous burden was lifted off of me. Motzi Shabbos, when I called the hospice at 10:30pm, they reported that that her death was imminent. I then gave them the name and phone number of Sol Levinsons and Bros, the Jewish Funeral Home in Baltimore. At 11:30pm, my mother was nifteres. The hospice called my father and called Levinsons. I wasn’t called until the next morning. Because the hospice knew to call Levinsons, things moved very quickly and the nifteress was brought to Baltimore late Sunday night. Two burial plots were purchased and all arrangements were made on Sunday. Our mother had a kosher tahara and kevurah that Monday morning. Afterwards our father thanked us profusely for taking care of all the arrangements.

Our father’s change of heart was erev Shabbos. Our mother was nifteres motzi Shabbos. One of my dear friends suggested that maybe the neshuma could not leave the guf until proper kevurah was assured. Boruch Hashem, through the zechus (merit) of our tefillos and those of Rebbetzin Taub, of blessed memory, our mother merited a tahara and kevurah al pi halacha (according to Jewish law). We are eternally grateful. Out tefillos were answered.

4 comments on “How a Planned Cremation was Changed to a Proper Jewish Burial

  1. Wonderful story. The Sidell’s are special people. Rebbetzin Taub was the wife of Rav Amram Taub zt”l an incredible tzaddik who lost 5 children in the camps, came to the US and started over.

  2. The Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and Agudath Israel, could do a mass-mailing to as many Jews as possible warning them that cremation and above ground burial violate the laws of the Jewish faith.

    A cheaper way: Jewish web sites could start teaching this.

Comments are closed.