Usually translated as ”holy society,” a Hevra Kadisha is a group of volunteers who are on call to prepare a deceased person for burial according to time-honored Jewish traditions. The Hebrew for a deceased person is meyt (male) and meyta (female). The Hevra Kadisha’s ultimate concern is to care for the meyt/meyta with respect and kindness. Members of the Hevra Kadisha maintain strict confidentiality out of respect for the dignity of the deceased.
VOCABULARY FOR UNDERSTANDING THE WORK OF THE HEVRA KADISHA AND TAHARA
1. Hevra Kadisha (Holy Society)- a group of dedicated volunteers who participate on teams to prepare the dead for burial.
2. Met/Meta- the Hebrew word for a dead person, male/female.
3. Tahara (Purification)-a term used to describe the entire process of ritually washing and dressing the dead accompanied by prayer and chant. Men prepare men and women prepare women. Special efforts are made to sensitively accommodate
transgender needs. Tahara is also a term that describes a specific purification ritual as part of the process-the pouring of a continuous flow of three buckets of water, totaling twenty-four quarts, over the met/meta.
4. Tachrichim- the simple, white cotton/muslin clothing used to dress the met/meta. These include a head/face covering, pants with closed pant legs, an inner shirt and an outer shirt (kittel). These garments represent the ritual garments worn by the
High Priest (Kohen Gadol) during Yom Kippur.
5. Aron- plain wooden box (casket) with no metal in it that holds the met/meta.
6. Shomrim- people who “watch over” the met/meta so they are never left alone. Shomrim read passages from the psalms or other inspirational texts.
7. Hesed shel Emet (True Lovingkindness)- refers to all activities offered in attending to the needs of the dead because these acts of love can never be repaid.
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Hal Miller-Jacobs Hal@HevraKadisha.org
Community Hevra Kadisha
of Greater Boston
9 Piper Road
Lexington, MA 02421
The Community Hevra Kadisha of Greater Boston (CHK) has been recognized as a tax exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to CHK are deductible under section 170 of the Code