Bill Ornstein: Chevra Kadisha
Location:Schara Tzedeck Synagogue
Date:Thursday, January 18, 2001
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20-01:05
JG: Right. I don’t want to pass over that. What is a Chevra Kadisha and who is involved in the procedures?
BO: Okay, Chevra Kadisha is, if you will, a burial society. They’d made up of, it’s made up of people, presumably, who are observant Jews. These people prepare the body for burial, and these people on a rotating basis, sit with the body until such time as the funeral takes place. These are very dedicated people, it’s something that not everybody would like to do. We have a women’s Chevra Kadisha and a men’s Chevra Kadisha. Of course it’s obvious that one looks after women and the other looks after men. It’s been pretty much the same people for several years. Every once in a while we get a new member joining. It’s a type of position that you can’t just go out and hire somebody to do. It’s something that somebody does because they have a special feeling for the person who is being buried.
JG: Now, can anyone - does it serve anyone in the community or is it just for members of Schara Tzedeck?
BO: Serves everybody in the community. It’s the only Chevra Kadisha in Vancouver, anyway. I was going to say all of British Columbia because I don’t think there’s an official Chevra Kadisha anywhere else including Victoria, to the best of my knowledge. But anyway it serves all of British - all of Vancouver and the outlying areas and it serves all of the synagogues, certainly not just for Schara Tzedeck.
JG: Okay and if someone is not affiliated with a synagogue and you know that he or she has died and they’re Jewish…
BO: They still get looked after. We even look after bodies that have to be shipped elsewhere. The body is prepared and put in a casket and sent where ever they have to be sent. We’ve sent some to Israel, to the prairies, to Montreal, still looked after by the Chevra Kadisha.