Planning a Jewish Funeral Far Away From Jews

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I’m writing this from the airport on my way to Seattle, where my father, sister and I will rent a car and drive a few hours to the small town where my father’s mother has been living for the past 20 years. Yesterday morning my grandmother died during surgery, and we spent most of the day trying to plan her funeral and arrange for a minyan so that my father can say Kaddish.

There is no Jewish community in the town where my grandmother lived, and the nearest group of Jews is more than half an hour away. This presented a number of unexpected and expected challenges as we tried to plan. Most of us who live in big Jewish communities don’t think to worry about these kinds of problems, but Jews who live in smaller cities and towns are often faced with serious challenges. If you or someone you know has a relative or close friend living in a small community, I urge you to prepare the following:
–Find out about the nearest hevra kadisha
–Find out where your loved one wants to be buried, and whether or not they have already purchased a plot
–Make sure you have the phone numbers for the nearest Jewish community

I’m learning lots of very useful and somewhat horrifying things this year. How far away is Rosh Hashanah?

Posted on March 24, 2009

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