I was disturbed to read Bob Hausman’s defense of the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee contract with Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home (“Jewish Funeral Practices Committee funerals protect the bereaved,” WJW, Sept. 11) given my family’s recent traumatic experience with that provider.
My father died late afternoon on Friday Aug. 15. My sister and I were left alone with his corpse for more than seven hours while Hines-Rinaldi refused to collect the body, saying that it was after their regular business hours. Its staff also refused to supply shomrim (people who watch over the body) until after Shabbat ended – some 28 hours since our father had died. We were told that shmira is a Jewish custom, not Jewish law, and therefore we were not guaranteed that service.
Instead of being accorded the comfort of knowing that we had given our father the dignity of the most basic Jewish funeral practices, well after midnight we were forced to accompany his body to the morgue in the hospital basement. Mr. Hausman writes that by using Hines-Rinaldi’s services:
“Bereaved families … know they’ve done the right, traditional thing, supported by the community, and they needn’t suffer doubt.” We were neither able to do the right, traditional thing nor to have any trust that our father would be accorded any Jewish death rites.
I want to alert local rabbis and their congregants to Hines-Rinaldi’s disdain for our religious traditions. This funeral home does not deserve a monopoly on affordable Jewish funerals, a practice it flouts with impunity. My father was a Holocaust survivor who was fortunate enough to die of natural causes in old age. It pains me greatly to know that for his final journey I was unable to provide him with the proper Jewish death rituals that he merited, as do all our loved ones.
No individual, no family, no Jewish institution should ever forget that Hines-Rinaldi is a business. A business that offers a unique, crucial service to the community. Do we have any control over who is hired, who is the management, when policies which can create heartache? Is Ms. Friedberg’s family experience ever going to be addressed?
Silver Spring, MD