‘We are the resource’

‘We are the resource’

I was concerned reading your Feb. 13 article “Community buries woman after rescuing her body from the morgue.” The Hebrew Free Burial Association had a connection to this case. We were called by an employee of Lifespire two weeks after Ms. Cohen’s death. We advised her on how to report the death to the proper authorities in Bergen County and made the recommendation that she call the Jewish Family Service of Bergen County, an agency that makes burial arrangements in just these kinds of situations in New Jersey. We also asked her to call us if she needed us to step in. We didn’t hear back from anyone about this case. I was horrified to then read that Ms. Cohen’s remains stayed in the morgue another 2 ½ months!

What distresses us in the article is the impression that it gives that there is no agency in the New York/New Jersey area that provides Jewish funerals and burials when there are no relatives or friends who can step forward and make arrangements. This is clearly not the case.

The Hebrew Free Burial Association has been doing precisely this work for the New York metropolitan area since 1888. Since our inception we have provided dignified burials for 60,000 of our brothers and sisters. It is our stated mission that we devote our resources to performing chesed shel emet, assuring that every Jew, regardless of financial means or religious affiliation, receives a dignified, traditional Jewish funeral and burial. Our contacts in New Jersey are numerous.

We have handled cases from Bergen, Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Mercer, Ocean, and Union counties. Students from Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey,Torah Academy of Bergen County, Yavneh Academy, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, JEC, and volunteers from Cong. Beth Abraham of Teaneck have participated in our Cemetery Clean-Up Project. In fact, an article by Abigail Klein Leichman appeared in your newspaper on Dec. 28, 2007, entitled “Students clear graves, get lesson in kindness,” about eighth-grade boys from the RYNJ and their volunteer experience for HFBA.

We have even received donations from Rabbi Lawrence Zierler of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, the synagogue mentioned in the Feb. 13 article.

We sincerely hope that going forward, the Jewish communities in New Jersey know that we are the resource for them as we have been for the past 121 years.