Members of the OJC’s Chevra Kadisha (CK) organise burials, and cremations, and can assist with Shiva prayers. Most burials are held at the Jewish section of the Wolvercote cemetery and cremations at the Crematorium in Headington . Please contact the Chevra Kadisha (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further details. Also there is a support and counselling service for those in need - BLESS (Bereavement, Loss and Emotional and Spiritual Support). Contact details are https://www.ojc-online.org/bless.html
During Orthodox services, the OJC can recite a memorial prayer for departed relatives up to and including grandparents. Contact email@example.com for further information and if you wish to be added to the Yahrzeit memorial reminder service, (NB this is not part of the remit of the Chevra Kadisha)
A death in the Jewish community: What happens? What to do?
The OJC has a group of volunteers whose role is to assist relatives through the process of managing a death in their family - the Chevra Kadisha (CK), who will lift from the bereaved family the burden of dealing with the practical arrangements for burial.
When a relative has died, or if a death is anticipated, contact the CK and the procedures will be explained. A useful leaflet is downloadable, entitled “what to do if…”. Once the death has occurred, the relative who will take responsibility for the funeral should contact the Chevra Kadisha. Please note it is not necessary to call in the middle of the night as little can be done before the relevant offices are open but do call at weekends when an emergency facility is available.
To contact the CK please call Dr Michael Ward (01865 311124), and if he is not immediately available, he will have left a message on his answerphone, and you should take note of that message as he might be suggesting you call his mobile or, if he is out of town one of the other members of the Chevra Kadisha. If you want to contact the CK in less urgent circumstances, you can email: ChevraKadisha@ojc-online.org
The Chevra Kadisha can help in arranging all funeral arrangements. Information will be provided at the appropriate time to family members regarding local undertakers, provision of a death certificate and other necessary paperwork, as well as detailed burial or cremation arrangements. Within the general presumption that the funeral should not be unduly delayed, its timing nevertheless needs to be mutually acceptable to the family, the CK, the undertakers and the crematorium or cemetery authorities. Recent changes in Wolvercote Cemetery working practices make it difficult to arrange burials in less than three working days.
The CK will arrange for one of its members to attend and officiate at the interment, who will discuss the details and wishes of the family prior to the day. Other matters for the family to discuss include who, if anyone might deliver a eulogy at the funeral, and arrangements for post-funeral Shiva prayers.
In many cases a period of mourning of up to seven days, called the Shiva, is observed in the home of one of the principal mourners. Advice is available regarding the details. However, adhering to all the above rituals is not compulsory. Every family is different in their degree of observance in this respect. OJC members are assured that their personal responses to the death of a loved one are entirely a private matter; the Chevra Kadisha imposes no requirements on the bereaved and, when undertaking a burial, does no more than ensure that the religious integrity of the community at large is protected. Nonetheless, holding one or more post-funeral services can bring significant benefits, not least in enabling those family and friends who were unable to attend the funeral to pay their respects to the deceased and to offer comfort and support to the bereaved.
Finally, there is a cost involved in these services. Unlike many Burial Societies in the larger Jewish communities, OJC members make no contribution in advance towards the costs of burial. The CK will make all the necessary arrangements and will initially settle the costs, but will then issue a single invoice to the deceased’s representative within a few weeks. The exact costs depend on several factors, which are outside the control of the CK or the OJC, such as costs levied by the United Synagogue’s Tahara service in Bushey, which carries out the rituals associated with preparing a Jewish body for burial; undertakers’ costs of moving and caring for the body; the cost of the plot in Wolvercote Cemetery (and the cost of this last factor will depend on the place of residence of the deceased, with non-Oxford City residents required to pay higher charges). Approval on burial of non-members will be on a case-by-case basis and under the aegis of the CK. An additional ‘Service Charge’ will be required in line with fees pertaining for United Synagogue burials in London at the time. This service for non-members is reviewed regularly and will also depend upon the availability of space in the Jewish cemetery.
For further information, please contact the Chevra Kadisha or call Michael Ward 01865 311124 or 07831410193..