Taharos (Jewish purification ritual in preparation for burial)
There are many different aspects of Chesed that are included in the Chesed that is done with מתים (deseased). The first is taharos. Over the years Chesed Shel Emes has done thousands of taharos on Jews of every affiliation from Chasidim to totally non-observant, spanning every neighborhood in the tri-state area, and going as far as Puerto Rico and California. Actually to date, the Chesed Shel Emes tahara count is unfortunately up to almost one thousand taharos per year.
Chesed Shel Emes performs taharos, for any one that requests, free of charge. Thousands of Jews who are not members of a specific kehilla or society, use the services of Chesed Shel Emes when tragedy hits home.
Often, Chesed Shel Emes will be called by various kehillos to care for their niftarim, whether because the kehilla lacks its own services, or because the niftar had a highly contagious disease and the local Chevra Kadisha are afraid to come close. The volunteers sometimes have to wear masks, gowns, and gloves, but they never refused a taharah. Their only requirement is that the niftar be a member of Klal Yisroel.
The seforim tell us that being cared for by a non-Jew at yetzias neshama is a tzaar for the neshama. Chesed Shel Emes therefore makes it its business to travel to any hospital where they are called, 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, to be present at yetzias neshama and to prepare the body for removal. They have traveled many hours to far out hospitals in order to accomplish this task.
Chesed Shel Emes Volunteers are trained to remove all types of tubes, lines, medication terminals, and all types of medical equipment from the niftarim, in order to avoid the niftar being handled by non-jewish nurses, and preserve the utmost Kovod Hameis.
Chesed Shel Emes is also called to the hospital or home of a dying person, to say pesukei yichud and viduy, as well as to guide and counsel family members in the relevant Halachos. Every niftar is tended to with the utmost respect, regardless of his background or religious status, and all Halachas and customs are stringently adhered to. While our volunteers are at the hospital they offer the grieving family support, advice, and guidance on how to get through the whole process of the funeral and burial.
Many times when a person passed away at home, Chesed Shel Emes is called in to assist with all the technicalities, from locating and notifying the next of kin, finding a doctor to sign the proper paperwork, dealing with the Medical Examiner, expediting their process, dealing with the local police department or other government agency if necessary, and again offering support, advice, and guidance to the grieving family, to assisting them in making all the proper funeral and burial arrangements. In dealing with a case where there is no money to cover the burial and funeral expenses, Chesed Shel Emes will pick up the charge as well.
Chesed Shel Emes volunteers are on call 24/6, in case they are called for a person who passed away at home they will respond right away, in order to avoid unnecessary aggravation for the family.
Our volunteers have encountered many times when they showed up at a house call, where the family was not 100% religious, and they were not planning to give their loved one a proper Jewish burial, and the volunteers were able to persuade the family to do a proper Jewish burial, and the family even paid for it.
Chesed Shel Emes will not spare any money or effort to assure the utmost dignity and respect of the Niftar (deceased) and their Family, and to assure that the burial takes place as soon as humanly possible. In several instances Chesed Shel Emes has worked tireless hours and spend enormous amounts of money to preserve the ultimate Kvod Hames, weather it meant chartering private jets to transport the niftarim from out of town, or to have volunteers drive all night in bad weather, in order to expedite the burial. Or to have a staff of trained volunteers work the phones, with multiple government agencies to be granted the release of a niftar, or to hire attorneys to fight of cremations & autopsy requests. No money and no effort will be spared in order to offer the highest level of respect to the niftarim.