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The role of the Chevra Kadisha ("Holy Society") is to show honor to the dead by preparing the body for burial according to Jewish custom. There are separate coordinators for men and women. Those who wish to involve the Chevrah Kadisha should indicate this to Rabbi Tom Gutherz or to the Funeral Director when making funeral arrangements.
CBI has a functioning Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish Burial Society, a committee of volunteers who have trained themselves in the ways of Jewish traditional preparation for burial. Not all families choose to utilize the services of the Chevra Kadisha, but many take comfort in following time honored traditions at life's endpoint.
Members of the Chevra perform Tahara, the ritual washing and dressing of the body (mayt/maytah) before burial which includes prayers and verses from the Song of Songs. It is done with utmost respect for the person who once occupied that body and for the deceased's soul (neshama), which is thought to be still hovering near the body. Tahara is one facet of the Jewish rituals that precede burial.
Another facet is Shmira (watching/guarding), where individual members of the community (shomer/shomeret) take turns being in the room with the coffin containing the body and may sit in silence, recite psalms, prayers, reflections on life and death, and sacred chants for the benefit of the neshama of the deceased. Shmira is traditionally done from the time of death until burial and can be done by anyone, including friends and family members. Learn more about the mitzvah of Shmira in this article.