The Facebook Tahara

It’s not uncommon for people to voice private situations on Facebook – even a plea for a Kosher Tahara. At 10 pm, Robin Meyerson, west coast director for NASCK, got a text regarding this Facebook posting:

My husband passed today, after 51 1/2 years of a blessed marriage. We were so lucky! A rabbi was supposed to do the ritual cleansing but will be out of town till Monday. Another rabbi suggested we call a mortuary and perhaps they would be able to recommend someone. ……We are a reformed family, but that doesn’t mean we don’t observe some of the customs. I don’t know what to do….. We, my family and I, have pain and sorrow at my husband’s passing, and to have to deal with this too is just too much. What can I do? ….

Robin posted her cell phone and on Facebook. The next day, the Niftar’s daughter called. Her father was a veteran and was to be buried Friday at 2:15 pm at the national veteran’s cemetery. How could she get a Tahara for her father in time for her Dad’s burial? She was at a loss of what to do. She did not know how a Tahara was done. She was in crisis and confused. Robin gently and lovingly explained the Jewish customs to her, explaining she would do her best to find a team of men to take care of her father because all Jews deserve the respect and honor of a proper Jewish burial and Tahara.

In many communities when a Niftar is not in a Jewish mortuary, the Chevra Kadisha faces this issue regularly and they take their equipment to non-Jewish mortuaries and perform Taharos there. Unfortunately, Jews choose non-Jewish mortuaries not realizing the importance of having a Jewish mortuary. Then in a time of crisis they decide to do a Tahara and have a Shomer and they find themselves in a serious bind. They want their loved one to have a proper Jewish end to their life, but in crisis mode, they don’t know what to do.

No Jew should be denied a proper Tahara and Shomer. Robin called the business men and rabbis in her community who do Tahara and assembled a team of Chevra Kadisha men to perform the Mitzvah. A Shomer was on standby – ready to watch the body and recite T’hillim.

After much difficulty and many attempts to arrange for the Tahara and Shomer at the non-Jewish mortuary, Robin called the family and asked permission to transfer the Niftar to the Jewish mortuary. She explained the need to do the Tahara in a facility with the proper equipment so their loved one would have proper honor in a Jewish environment.

Robin worked with the non-Jewish mortuary and instructed them not to touch the body, not to embalm or view him, to remove the lining of the coffin and to only use a Kosher pine coffin.

After the funeral a new posting appeared on Facebook. Words of anger, despair and frustration turned to words of thanks, G-d and faith. More than 500 people responded on Facebook.

I don’t know where to start thanking all of you who wrote to me, said and are saying prayers for my husband, reached out to me and gave me great advice. I especially want to thank Robin Meyerson, the West Coast Director of NASCK. I also need to publicly thank my daughter, who worked with Robin… when I was completely immobilized and unable to help myself. Robin literally moved heaven and earth to make certain my husband had a kosher cleansing and found a Rabbi to sit with him tonight and pray for him. How do I say thank you and how very grateful I am, we are, my children and myself. Life is full of miracles, and today I saw many of them manifested. In the person of Robin, the men she found to do the Chevra Kadisha and the Rabbi. All came together to help my husband leave here as a Jewish man, He came in as a Jewish baby and now has completed his life’s work. I see the hand of G-D at work here, messaged through Facebook, of all things, and then through the kindness of all of you who reached out to me, and ultimately through Robin Meyerson.

Thank you to everyone here. You removed a huge part of the anguish modern American life imposed on us and brought us back to our faith in our time of desperate need.