What does the Ottawa Chevra Kadisha do?
The Ottawa Chevra Kadisha takes charge of the body of the deceased upon its arrival on chevra kadisha premises; prepares it for burial and religious services; and oversees its delivery to the cemetery and grave site.
- 1. Tahara
The central task of the chevra kadisha is to perform the tahara (ritual purification) on the bodies of deceased members of the Jewish community so they may be buried according to Jewish custom in a Jewish cemetery. Most Ottawa synagogues providing cemetery plots to members require a tahara to be performed prior to burial. The tahara consists of washing the body, dressing it in simple, hand-sewn garments called takhrikhim, and placing it in a coffin ready for burial. Taharas are conducted in a collegial and dignified manner by chevra kadisha teams of 5 to 7 members. Only men attend men, women attend women.
2. Religious service
Men from the chevra kadisha attend, coordinate, and oversee the religious service at the chapel, synagogue, or graveside; accompany the coffin to the cemetery; and take part in the interment—in collaboration with synagogue clergy, undertaking services, and the Jewish Memorial Gardens.
3. Sewing takhrikhim
Women from the chevra kadisha gather each month toprepare the takhrikhim (funeral shrouds) to be stored against future need. Only pure white cotton material and thread are used. The cutting and sewing are done by hand. (The Ottawa Chevra Kadisha is the only one in North America that provides this service for its community.)
Some denominations call for the body of the deceased to be in the continual presence of the living from the time of death to the time of burial. The Ottawa Chevra Kadisha assists families to hire a shomer (watchman) and provides accommodations at their facility so he can carry out this function.
The Ottawa Chevra Kadisha charges $1,000 for its services. (There are resources and provisions within the Jewish community for financial aid.)