Knowing both of these dedicated men well, I am surprised that both Ed Sagel and Bob Hausman have missed a most important point of the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee (JFPC) and the bereaved served through this arrangement (“Inexpensive funerals may not provide good services,” WJW, Sept. 4); (“Jewish Funeral Practices Committee funerals protect the bereaved,” WJW, Sept. 11). It is not about price, or choices, or facilities, or restraint of trade. It is about synagogue members lovingly assisting fellow congregants at a time of their greatest need, performing the ultimate mitzvah for which they cannot be thanked.
For more than 20 years, I had the honor and privilege of working with one such synagogue bereavement committee comprised of the most remarkable volunteers in a sacred community. People who would drop what they were doing to help a fellow synagogue member whether it be to go to a house of the bereaved to hold a hand and help with arrangements or anonymously perform tahara (ritual washing) early in the morning of a funeral, or to sit through the night reciting psalms as a shomer with the deceased or provide a shiva minyan and a consoling meal. This is what the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee is truly about.
Yes, it provides a standard, traditional, lower-cost funeral for the family but that is merely to simplify the process for the bereaved and the volunteer at a difficult time to make choices. The costs are not eliminated but merely shifted from the family and funeral home to the synagogue, clergy, staff, and volunteers who basically donate their time and facilities to serve as funeral directors and cemetery chapels.
All families in our community have a choice of whether or not to utilize the JFPC or use a commercial funeral home. I’m proud to work in a community with choices and with extraordinary volunteers.
GLENN S. EATON