National Association of Chevra Kadisha

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What is a chevra kadisha?

By NASCK Staff
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The chevra kadisha prepares the body to return to its Maker by performing a ritual known as a tahara. The chevra washes the body with warm water, immerses it in a mikvah, dresses it, and places it in a casket. 

The work of the chevra kadisha is performed in an atmosphere of reverence. The body is treated with the gentleness and respect it deserves as a holy object —  something that was created b’tzelem Elokim, in the image of G-d, and the earthly home of a soul that is a “piece” of G-d Himself.

Like a Torah scroll, it is uncovered only when necessary, and prayers are recited throughout. In order to preserve the body’s dignity, men care for men, and women care for women. 

Chesed, kindness, is not merely an important value in Judaism, it is one of the three pillars of the world, and the act of preparing a body for its final journey is called chesed shel emes, literally “true kindness,” the most pure expression of the quality of kindness.

The chevra kadisha is usually composed of volunteers, and members are chosen for their piety and integrity.

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