The Matzav Shmoooze: In Time of Sorrow

14

keverDear Editor,

One of the most difficult and trying periods in one’s life occurs when experiencing the death of an immediate family member R”l. Compounding the inevitable shock and sadness is the compelling obligation to arrange for a prompt funeral and burial according to Halacha. Often the first organization contacted by the family during this traumatic time is the local Chevra Kadisha (burial society).

Unfortunately, some local Chevra Kadisha members act outside the bounds of Halacha, general decency, and the laws of New York State. It is imperative that our community be aware of this pervasive phenomenon and thus arm itself with the ability to resist falling victim to it.

Specifically, during the emotionally vulnerable period before burial of the niftar, some Chevra Kadisha representatives apply inordinate pressure upon the grieving families by insisting that they utilize the services of a particular favored funeral home. They sometimes claim to have a “contract” with that funeral home and may even threaten to not bury the deceased — although the burial plot is legally owned by the family (and often was purchased from that same Chevra Kadisha) — unless the family agrees to patronize their “recommended” funeral home. (In one case I’m familiar with, a member of a certain Chevra Kadisha is simultaneously employed at one of the local funeral homes.) Moreover, some “volunteers” of a certain Bikur Cholim engage in steering unsuspecting grieving family members to a particular funeral home. It has also occurred in Boro Park that a certain Chevra Kadisha insisted that a niftar be physically transported from one funeral home to another, an especially appalling violation of Halacha and Bizayon HaMes.

The deplorable behavior and unholy alliances I describe not only stifle competition; they also add potentially millions of dollars in funeral costs to members of the Boro Park, Williamsburg and Flatbush communities, many of whom can ill afford the inflated expenses. And besides denying grieving families their rightful free choice, the practice is transparently illegal.

Article 32, Section 3208 (d) of the New York State Insurance Law states: “No person, firm, association, society, or corporation engaged in this state in the business of providing for the payment of funeral, burial or other expenses of deceased members, whether or not it be subject to other provisions of this chapter, and no insurer shall: (1) deliver or issue for delivery in this state any contract or policy whereby the benefit or any part thereof accruing under such contract or policy, upon the death of such member or of the person insured, shall be payable to a designated or restricted funeral director or funeral directing concern or other person engaged in such trade or business, or to any official or designated group of them; or (2) pay any such benefit or any part thereof to any funeral director or funeral directing concern or other person engaged in such trade or business or to any official or designated group of them, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to such benefits; or (3) in any way deprive the personal representative or family of the deceased of the advantage of competition in procuring and purchasing supplies and services in connection with the burial of such deceased.”

Without doubt, it is a mitzvah to publicize the aforementioned.

Sincerely,

Usher Piller

Brooklyn, NY

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

14 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Piller,

    If you truly are doing this leshem mitzva, then enough beating around the bush. Name the organizations and the funeral homes and be done with it. It looks like you are trying to still negotiate with the organizations. If it is true the oilam will have great hakoras hatov if you publicize it.
    Thanks
    A concerned yid

  2. welcome to the corrupt country of the USA.

    BUT its not just the government that’s corrupt. how many acts of corruption are you involved in?how many times have you charged a customer more,, by convincing yourself that he’s rich or I just decided to raise my prices etc…

    start doing teshuva now, step by step

    1)HONESTY: %100 in all cases from jobs to taxes etc…

    2)sit down with your spouse/business partner & look through your records for anyone that you charged more then regular price & return it to them (no need to confess or cause
    embarrassment, just mail them a money order)

    3)remove all programs that you not entitled to honestly & pay the honest full tuition that you can afford.

    BOTTOM LINE: honestly is the key to success in everything, from family to friendship & business etc… the only way for Hashem to send a person livelihood & riches is for the person who can show Hashem that he can spend his money wisely & honestly (not vacations & 3 cars etc…) HATZLACHA

  3. How about charging for everything else but the Taharh? According to Halachah, we’re not allowed to do a full Taharah on anyone unless the communnity provides a free Taharh to everyone.

    So along come volunteers and do the Taharh for free and the funeral home will charge for;
    The Taharah room
    The Mikvah
    Water
    Etc.

  4. Response to #1. If Mr. Piller states that there are legal ramifications then it is very proper and descent of him not to name anyone.
    Response to #4. Why shouldn’t the funeral home not charge for providing a place that they paid for (not tzedaka funds). It is a service they 3e providing not a mitzva. I don’t think people want to go back to doing taharas in their own bathrooms as was once done.

  5. very well written, time to take this on. personally i never felt i had the “kochos”, but a a larger collective tzibur it is very doable.

  6. very well written, time to take this on. personally i never felt i had the “kochos”, but as a larger collective tzibur it is very doable.

  7. #5,

    “Why shouldn’t the funeral home not charge for providing a place..”

    If the spirit of the Halacha is that there shouldn’t be a charge for a Tahara, then there shouldn’t be a charge.

    I’ve never heard of this issue. Which Chevra Kadisha? It’s probably worthwhile to mention which Cheva Kadisha’s to use. I’m certain that the majority of Chevra Kadisha volunteers are indeed “chevra Kadisha” – a holy group.

  8. YOU ARE RIGHT TO VOICE YOUR OPINION, HOWEVER ONE SHOULD UNDERSTAND TE REASONING BEHIND KEHILAS CONTRACTING AND DEMANDING FROM IT MEMBERS SPECIFIC FUNERAL HOMES. MANY PEOPLE MOVE OR HAVE CHILDREN IN DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS OUTSIDE OF BORO PARK ,FLATBUSH AND QUEENS AND WANT THE LEVAYA TO TAKE PLACE AT A FUNERAL HOME THAT WILL NOT PROVIDE KOVOD HAMEIS SUCH AS A TAHARA NOT ACCEPTED BY THAT KEHILLA AND TACHRICHIM THAT ARE NOT ACCEPTED BY FRUM PEOPLE
    THE 2ND REASON IS WHEN A KEHILLA CONTRACTS WITH A FUNERAL HOME THEY GET A CHEAPER PRICE FOR THE SERVICE AND THE USE OF THE CHAPEL. yes THERE ARE KEHILLOS THAT ARE MAKING MONEY ON THE CHAPEL BUT MOST GIVE YOU A SET PRICE WHEN YOU PURCHASE YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

    MR PILLER YOU HAVE SOME VERY GOOD POINTS HOWEVER IT SEEMS IT IS NOW AN AGENDA WITH OTHER MOTIVES,

  9. Rabbi Piller is the one! “????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ???”. In my family there was once an incident that the Chevra Kaddisha arrived right after ????? ???? and threatened that if we don’t use them the “mes” won’t be able to be buried, because they are the only ones that can get a permit! Whoo! the price they take. And for the person that asked to mention who. Just call up the few funeral homes and ask them for the prices you’ll see that one in MUCH MUCH more than another. Usually in the business world when there are two of them the prices are basic the same. Here you’ll see that there is a huge difference and interesting enough the expensive one is the one that gets used! Doesn’t this scream out Something. ????? ??? ?????? ?????? “?? ????? ???? ???” ??”? ???? ???? ???!!!

  10. To #1 and #5: It is futile to name names because the vast majority of chevra kadishas are involved in these shady dealings.

  11. #11,

    You’ve left me very confused. Please, clearly, state the reason for the contract.
    1) Children move.
    2) ??

    If children move, what is the problem?
    What soloution does a contract create?


    As to your second reason: The people who’ve unfortunately faced this say it does not make it cheaper. They’re saying it makes it a lot more expensive.

    Sounds like a bad deal, in every way.
    Maybe Elil is a zman teshiva? Maybe men zohl tihen teshiva and do the Eibishters Rutzen?

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