The members of the Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha perform their duty with solemn reverence and respect.
On Monday, January 7, Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat, over one hundred members of the Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha gathered.
It was Yom Kippur Koton, a day of fasting and Tefila. It is a moment in time when the members ask for Mechila lest they did not display appropriate Kovod Haniftar during a Tahara.
This day of Tefila, Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat follows the מנהג קדמונים that establishes this date for a day of fasting & teshuvah for the Chevra Kadisha. It has been a tradition of the Boro Park Chevra Kadisha since its inception more than 55 years ago. Mincha was led by the Posek of the Chevra, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Friedman, שליט”א, The Tenke Rov of Boro Park.
After Maariv, more than 100 Chevra Kadisha volunteers attended the Seudah, generously sponsored by Mr. Abe Weiss in memory of his family members. The Yartzeit of his father, ר’ אהרן בן רי אברהם ז”ל is the week of the Seudah, 26 Teves.
The inspiring words of Mussar and Chizuk delivered by prominent speakers were the highlight of the evening.
Rabbi Eleizer Dovid Rappaport שליט”א, the second Posek of the Chevra, made the הדרן on סדר מועד סיום He spoke poignantly on the events of that day – the passing of the great Gaon and Tzaddik, Harav Shmuel Berenbaum, זצ”ל.
That very morning, Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha was privileged to perform his Tahara, alongside a number of his close Talmidim. Rav Rappaport, with much emotion, observed the magnitude of this Zechus for the Chevra. He urged the members to continue to strengthen the procedures of the Taharas for even greater Kovod HaNiftar.
Harav Shmuel Dishon Shlita, משגיח רוחני of Yeshiva Karlin-Stolin was the guest speaker. His expressive words described the unique Kedusha of a Chevra Kadisha. In Europe, before the war, members of the Chevra Kadisha were held in the highest esteem by their Kehilos, in recognition of their holy work of devotion to Kovod HaNiftar. He especially praised the women of the Chevra who, with great Mesiras Nefesh, are critical partners in this holy work.
Rabbi Yossef Handler, one of the Gabbaim of the Chevra Kadisha was chairman of the evening. He astounded those present when he pointed out the overwhelming statistics: During this past year, 375 Taharas were performed for men and over 470 Taharas were conducted for women, 842 Taharas in all.
Rabbi Handler also led the Tzibur in Kel Moleh Rachamim for the departed members of the Chevra Kadisha as well as relatives of Chevra members.
Harav Avrohom Friedlander Shlita, Hinover Rov and Chaplain of Maimonides Medical Center was warmly introduced. His constant assistance and support was publicly acknowledged.
Special recognition was gratefully extended to the beloved administrator of the Chevra Kadisha, R’ Shulem Mermelstein, who has successfully and diligently steered the helm of the Chevra for more than 40 years.
Throughout the evening, a sense of serenity pervaded the proceedings. Everyone present felt fulfilled and privileged to be part of the vital work and invaluable worth of the Chevra Kadisha.
(Photo credits: REBEL Images)