Death and Special Issues of the Body
An overview of autopsy, organ donation, and cremation in Jewish tradition and practice.
My colleague and friend Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson points out that to voluntarily cremate a body after millions of Jewish bodies were cremated in the Nazi death camps is simply unthinkable. Moreover, the burial site itself becomes a place of comfort for the survivors, a place that would not exist if the body is cremated.
In cases where the family decides to cremate the body in disregard of Jewish practice, the [Conservative Movement's] Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has ruled that a rabbi may officiate only at the service in the funeral home, but not at the burial of ashes, lest her/his participation be interpreted as approval (Rabbinical Assembly Proceedings, 1939, p. 156)
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