Tzohar bereavement program helps secular Israelis navigate halachic burial

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization has launched an initiative to offer support for bereaved families and help them navigate the bureaucracy of a halachic burial.

Volunteer rabbis will staff the program, and accompany the family through the process.

A state-funded funeral and burial are provided to all Jews who die in Israel.

The Tzohar bereavement program has started in the center of the country, and later will be expanded.

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Rabbi David Stav, founder of Tzohar, said in a statement that the bereavement program is a natural outgrowth of the organization’s mission to help Jews navigate the Jewish lifecycle, beginning with facilitating Jewish wedding ceremonies that adhere to Jewish law but that make the couple and their families feel comfortable.

“Over the past two decades we have been blessed to participate in countless happy occasions and share them with millions of Israelis but we understand that our commitment is also to ensure our services and support are available at less joyful periods of life,” he said.

The Bereavement Program is intended to act as an alternative for Israeli families, after many secular Jews have chosen non-halachic burials out of concern that the religious authorities fail to offer the family the necessary compassion and individualized attention.

“Our intent in this program is to help support these families emotionally and logistically and give them the understanding that halacha and Jewish tradition should not be perceived as any sort of burden. We wish to show them that they are being supported and cared for by our rabbinic community at all times of life,” Stav said.