April 16, 2024
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West Orange NASCK Breakfast Draws Community Support

On Sunday morning, July 30, Linda and Avi Laub hosted a breakfast at their home in West Orange to benefit NASCK, National Association of Chevra Kadishas. Approximately 100 members of the community and people from other areas attended the event to show their support and learn about the important programs and services that NASCK provides around the country as well as internationally.

NASCK, founded and led by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, deals with all issues of Kovod Hamet, utmost honor and dignity for someone who has passed away and his or her family. Chevra Kadishas, rabbis and community leaders connect with Rabbi Zohn and his staff daily to discuss every issue possible regarding a dead body.

Over the past few years one of the important issues that NASCK has worked on is cremation. The estimates are that Jews in America are cremating bodies at a 40 percent rate and this is unfortunately only growing. Rabbi Zohn, the guest speaker, explained the issues of cremation around the country. In many cases, especially in Florida, the main reason people are cremating is lack of funds. In other areas it might be because people don’t understand or realize that cremation has never been part of Jewish tradition, gives off high levels of carbon and prevents family members from visiting their lost relative. In still other areas it is the pervasive American culture that has been adopted by Jews who don’t know that Judaism believes in an afterlife and resurrection and who don’t appreciate the importance of burial in Jewish tradition. For misguided reasons of ecology, mobility, convenience or for a host of reasons advanced by the cremation industry, they choose cremation.

Rabbi Zohn discussed how the belief in the Tzelem Elokim—the image of Hashem all are created in—affects people’s self-worth and self-confidence, subsequently affecting their appreciation of others and how they treat them. This message should resonate with people as they mourn the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash and work to rebuild the third in their time. Rabbi Zohn then pointed out how the Torah uses the rationale of people’s creation in Hashem’s image as the reason for respecting life—their own and others—as well as the respect they afford those who have departed this life and require the respect of immediate burial.

At the conclusion, those in attendance learned that NASCK has made a major commitment to deal with the cremation issue by purchasing 15 acres in Florida (10 minutes from Boca Raton) where they plan to open two cemeteries providing burial at a fraction of the cost for all and will provide burial at no cost for the indigent, when necessary. Sections of the cemetery will be dedicated to Holocaust survivors, US veterans and many other specific groups. NASCK has created a unique opportunity for Chevra Kadishas and synagogues around the world to sponsor sections, providing people with a viable alternative to both cremation and the high cost of burial.

For information on how to get involved, support and make a difference, please go to NASCK.org or call 718-847-6280.

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