Chesed v'Emet - Cremation

There are many myths surrounding cremation and we will look at some of the misunderstandings about cremation. First of all, cremation is simply an alternative form of disposition. The technical definition of cremation is the immediate reduction by intense heat of a deceased human being. It is not the final step in the respectful disposition of a person, but rather it is part of the process. It is a misnomer that what is left of the body are ashes. At the completion of the cremation, what is left are those bones that cannot be further reduced. These bones are pulverized into fine powders that are incorrectly called ashes. These cremated remains are what are given to the family for final disposition. Cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery, placed in a niche in a cemetery columbarium, or a host of other options. If the family chooses, the cremated remains can be scattered at sea (following certain ordinances) or they can be buried or scattered on property that is owned by the family. Cremated remains may be placed in a decorative urn and kept by the family.

When a family chooses cremation, it does not prevent them from having a funeral service of some kind for their loved one. As a matter of fact, with the choice of cremation, there are even more options for a memorial service that is designed to meet the needs of the family. For instance, since there is no cemetery to go to after the service and since time is not a consideration for scheduling a service. Families can arrange for a service in the late afternoon or evening, thus conveniently allowing more people to attend the service. Cremation allows the family to decide whether the deceased's body will be present for the service or not. When the body is not present, it's usually referred to as a “memorial service.”

When this option is selected, there is no requirement to select a casket. Since most crematories require the remains be encased in something suitable for the cremation, an “alternative container,” usually made of rigid cardboard may be used, thus reducing the total costs. If a family chooses to have the body present, there are two options available. One is to use what's known as a “rental casket.” Simply put, the body is placed into an insert which is then placed in a casket shell for the service. Afterwards, the insert is removed from the shell and this container, with the remains inside, is then cremated. The other option is for the family to select a casket as they would for a traditional funeral with burial that is suitable for cremation. Depending upon the family's selection, a wood casket could, in fact, be less expensive than choosing a rental casket.

Within the many options available when choosing cremation is what is known as a “direct cremation.” This is the least expensive option because it calls for the minimal amount of service and merchandise. A direct cremation calls for the arranging for the deceased to be taken from the place of death, all the legal paperwork to be completed, the remains taken to the crematory as soon as possible, and the cremated remains returned to the family for final disposition. Choosing a direct cremation does not prevent a family from arranging a memorial service, either before or after the cremation has taken place. Memorial services can be held in a funeral home chapel, a synagogue or church, the family's home, or any place that is meaningful to either the deceased or the family. Although cremation is not allowed under traditional Jewish law, some Conservative rabbis and most Reform rabbis will officiate when cremation has been chosen. Since it's the philosophy of Chesed v'Emet to serve all families and to meet their needs, we offer a wide range of choices when it comes to cremation. Please see the Professional Services and Service Packages pdfs for our cremation prices.