Tahara, the ritual of washing and dressing a body in the Jewish tradition, is often held behind the scenes at a funeral home. It’s a great mitzvah — a good deed — to participate in a tahara. Because it is done anonymously, many Jews don’t know about this aspect of Jewish funerals.
Using a dressed-up plastic skeleton as the body, three members of Albuquerque’s Chevrah Kaddisha, the Jewish burial society, demonstrate the tahara ritual as practiced in Albuquerque. The participants are: Gail Rubin, coordinator of the Before I Die ABQ Festival (in black jacket), Libby Hopkins (in magenta sweater), and Charna Lefton (in striped shirt).
To protect the modesty of the deceased, the ritual is always conducted by women for a female who has died, and by men for a male. Tahara rituals may vary by community. For more information about funeral rituals and traditions for Jews, visit www.AGoodGoodbye.com and search for “Jewish funeral traditions.”
This tahara demonstration was part of the Inaugural Before I Die ABQ Festival, October 20-25, 2017. Recorded October 24, 2017 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.
Many thanks to the sponsors of the Before I Die ABQ Festival:
- A Good Goodbye, funeral planning for those who don’t plan to die;
- French Funerals & Cremations, Albuquerque’s largest and oldest family-owned funeral service company;
- The Neptune Society, America’s most trusted cremation service;
- Lasting Legacy, Inc., providing Estate and Trust services to New Mexico families;
- Express Legal Solutions, LLC, documents you need at a price you can afford;
- Retirement Extender®, a team of specialists making the most of your finances;
- Morris Hall, PLLC, a premier estate planning law firm;
- LifeIZShort.com, publishers of practical guides for dealing with the inevitable by Peter Callan;
- The Old Pine Box, specializing in pine and cedar coffins and caskets, and specialty urns;
- My Final Checklist, a master file for personal information;
- Zia Trust, Inc., serving clients in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and 38 other states;
- 1-800-AUTOPSY, a thanatology specialty service company.