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Aug 14

What to do in the case of bereavement – Ilana Alroy, Operations Manager

The passing of a loved one is always a shock, whether it is expected or sudden, and one is never prepared. We want you to know that we will be with you during this difficult and painful period and will always be available to offer support through your grief and anguish. Many a time people call and say ‘I’ve never done this before’…

The first responsibility at this moment, though, is to make all the necessary arrangements so that the deceased may be respectfully brought to eternal rest as soon as possible; in the most dignified manner and in accordance with tradition. With one call to the shul we will alleviate the anxiety and distress by guiding you through the process.

Should this occur after hours or on weekends, please call the ‘emergency’ number which is on our answering machine message. The person on ‘emergency’ duty will assist you in the same manner as we would during office hours. We liaise with the Chevra Kadisha (burial society, the “Chev”), who will arrange for the collection of the deceased.

We then arrange a time for the funeral which suits both the family and the Rabbi who will be officiating at the funeral. As we all know, most South Africans have family living abroad and we will arrange for the funeral to be held on a day which accommodates travel arrangements of family members. The Rabbi or a lay reader will conduct prayers if and when the family so requires.

When planning the unveiling of the headstone, once again, please make the arrangements through the office and not directly with the cemetery. This is important as the availability of the Rabbi on the chosen date needs to be confirmed. Thereafter we will liaise with the cemetery on your behalf.

If you have chosen the route of a cremation, the same procedure should be followed, i.e. calling the office to assist you. However, it is very important that family, friends or the relevant people around you are made aware of your choice of burial to avoid any confusion as to how to go about things.

In most cases one’s first instinct is to call the Chev. In the case of a cremation please DO NOT call the Chev; call the office and we will liaise with the crematorium and take care of all the arrangements. Unlike in the case of a funeral, certain documents have to be filled in at the synagogue office, where you will be asked to show the deceased’s ID book and the death certificate. These are to be completed before they can proceed with the cremation. As part of this process, we offer the bereaved family a Memorial Service at the Synagogue – we do not perform memorial services at the crematorium.

To commemorate your loved one who has been cremated, you can order a plaque with wording of your choice. This dedicatory plaque will be placed on the Wall of Remembrance at West Park Cemetery, sealing the niche into which the ashes will have been placed. Another option is to buy a leaf for the Tree of Life in the Shul Foyer in memory of your loved one.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office or the Rabbi.

For now we wish you all long, healthy and happy living !