The term “meis mitzvah” is one that evokes the purest, most genuine and heartfelt feelings among Jews. Many people might assume that it is a mitzvah that is reserved for a select few, the heroes of the chevrah kadisha who undertake the burial of those without family. But that is not the case.
The Hebrew Free Burial Association is an organization that enables every single person to have a part in the extraordinary zechus of ensuring proper burial for every single Jew, no matter their background or financial status.
Astoundingly, the Hebrew Free Burial Association buries approximately 350 people a year – almost one person a day! These are individuals who don’t have family or lack the funds to pay for a proper kevurah, as well as niftarim that may have been lying in a morgue with no one stepping up to perform this chesed shel emes.
In almost all these cases, if not for Hebrew Free Burial Association’s intervention, these bodies would be cremated or deposited in a city cemetery or potter’s field.
The association’s work is always daunting, but the coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges.“Unfortunately, we were inundated with an unprecedented number of niftarim due to the virus,” says one of the organizers. The association had no choice but to purchase a refrigerated trailer to place on-site to hold the niftarim. With each niftar costing about $5,400, the additional cases handled this year cost the organization over $1 million. The Hebrew Free Burial Association covers the costs of the taharah, the tachrichim, the casket and the actual burial. The association owns a cemetery in Staten Island, where the entire process is carried out by a team of dedicated men and women in an incredible display of selflessness and care.“In some cases,” said a volunteer, “the niftarim we deal with passed away weeks, months or even over a year ago. It is vital for the neshamos of these deceased men and women for the taharah and kevurah process to be carried out as soon as we are notified.”For over 130 years, the Hebrew Free Burial Association has provided this vital service to the Jewish community, yet, amazingly, it has flown under the radar, garnering little attention, as it conducts its activities discreetly.
The association has never before held a wide-ranging fundraising effort, but the additional costs it has incurred has compelled it to reach out to the wider community for vital assistance.
Endorsed by Rav Reuven Feinstein, Rav Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Paysach Krohn and many prominent Rabbonim. The organization’s rabbinical advisor is Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, director of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens Chevra Kadisha and founder and director of the Association of Chevros Kadisha.
To contribute to the Hebrew Free Burial Association and have a zechus in this priceless mitzvah, Click Here!