Although a common misunderstood fact that a plain pine box is a requirement, there is nothing written about any type of box or container to be used in a Jewish burial.It could be said that many of the edicts found in the green burial movement today are the adaptations of Jewish funerals in a modern day world.A favorite blanket might accompany a shroud but not replace a shroud, and concrete vaults are often a cemetery requirement, but the intent is virtually the same .The terms "Jewish Burial", "Green Burial" and "Natural Burial" are synonymous, for essentially they all mean the same thing.Even people with good intentions often say and do the wrong thing.If you want to comfort a grieving friend or relative, your primary task is to validate his/her feelings.
This was the bumper sticker that found its way to the rear of many of the cars my friends and I drove in college.When we lose a loved one, it is often hard to comfort others - even our children.Parents often avoid talking to their children about death because they think it will upset them.Another friend, whose brother recently died, grumbles that everyone keeps telling her it will get better with time.Having received my share of insensitive, even hurtful, comments after my son, Michael died 13 years ago, I certainly understand.In Israel today, the body, or "Met" is brought to the cemetery in a container, removed and buried in the ground with friends, family and the community completing the task of burial. As the movement in the funeral industry may be debated between green burials and cremations as it relates to the environment, JFDA members can sit this debate out, knowing that the sages of our tradition were not only scholars of their time, but in their wisdom were thousands of years ahead of their time as "protectors of the earth".Their wisdom of "we come from the earth as so to the earth we shall return", is not a convenient environmental debate, but what Tevya famously declared in "Fiddler on the Roof", "TRADITION, TRADITION"!Therefore, in accordance with Jewish Law, our caskets do not delay the "dust to dust" requirements."Thirty years after her son's death, my friend still smarts when she remembers all the people who pointed out how lucky she was to have two other children.What's notable is not that organizations like the Green Burial Council are relatively new, but that the sages of Judaism adopted these practices thousands of years ago."And thus we give back to the earth, that which was of the earth", a prayer recited at a Jewish burial was not written with the environment in mind.It was so practical and sound in its roots, it has stood the test of time-some two to three thousand years.