Researching, identifying and selecting an appropriate funeral home for the memorial service and burial of a loved one can be a sensitive and overwhelming process. This is generally one of the first and most important decisions made following a death. Whether pre-planning a funeral or planning a funeral immediately following a loss, choosing a funeral home entails deciding with whom, how and where funeral and burial will take place. There are several additional considerations to consider when finding a funeral home including the Jewish traditions and customs desired, the mourners' level of observance, geographic location, family preferences and more.

Understanding Funeral Homes

When beginning to search for a funeral home, it is helpful and important to fully understand the roles that the funeral home will be fulfilling. In general, funeral homes are responsible for working directly with the family to arrange the funeral and memorial service, prepare the body, coordinate with the cemetery and assist in the selection and purchase of products needed.

Families are often presented with a variety of options, resulting in many decisions. One element of the funeral home search that all consumers should be aware of is The Funeral Law. The Funeral Law is a federally regulated law that requires all funeral homes to provide itemized prices for separate goods and services, allowing families to choose only the individual services that meet their particular needs. Only a funeral home that can meet all of the family’s needs and wishes, while maintaining a high level of comfort for the family, should be selected.

Choosing a Funeral Home

There are many ways to find funeral homes including asking for help from a synagogue, seeking recommendations from family and friends and, of course, a straightforward Google search. It may be helpful to compile a short list of possible funeral homes and compare them to find the one that best meets the family’s needs.

Scheduling a meeting or phone call with potential funeral home directors will provide the best opportunity to ask any questions, get a general feel for the funeral home’s approach, understand more about how it is operated and obtain, a list of services offered and corresponding prices. By conducting research and/or preparing a short list of questions in advance of the meeting or call, it may help with further qualifying the funeral home. During the selection process, researching can also help to alleviate the pressure felt while making arrangements. Finding a funeral home that can be trusted and relied upon during such a difficult time is essential.

A Few Considerations

When deciding on which funeral home to select there are many considerations. Arranging funeral and memorial services after the death of a loved one may feel like an overwhelming decision and responsibility. Choosing the right funeral home to rely upon during such a difficult time is important. Below are a few recommendations to consider during the process selecting the appropriate funeral home.

Geographic Location

A first step to choosing the right funeral home is to decide where to, geographically begin your search. The funeral home selected is generally located relatively close to the site of the burial. Often, funeral homes operate their own cemetery, so understanding any affiliations with a cemetery and the location will be important to consider. Some families may want a loved one to be buried in the deceased’s birth city, while others may be interested in the individual being buried near the current residence of the surviving family members. Generally, this decision is made by a designated family member or should be reached by consensus of the family members. In some instances the deceased may have a pre-planned or selected location in a will or trust.

Level of Observance

Depending on the upbringing of the deceased and/or family’s religious background, it may be important to consider the traditions of Jewish death and mourning that various funeral homes may observe.  If the family chooses to hold a Jewish funeral, it is essential to verify that the funeral home is aware of and has experience with the traditions, rituals and practices, if the family chooses to hold a Jewish funeral. Referrals by friends, clergy, and local synagogues are great resources to assist with obtaining qualified information about funeral homes in a specific geographic area.

3. Pricing.

Funeral and memorial services come in a wide range of pricing options. During the initial meeting with the funeral home, the family should request and receive a quoted price for the requested services. If the family feels uncertain about the pricing, it is common to comparison shop at other funeral homes to ensure that the family is comfortable with the pricing and that all services are in the appropriate price range.

4. Level of Comfort.

It is important that the family is comfortable with the overall operation of the funeral home, and especially with the funeral director. At no point should the family feel pressured to make arrangements that were not in their original plans, or add additional services that are unnecessary.

5. Goods and Services.

Often, funeral homes provide a long list of options for funeral/burial goods and services. These services include embalming, cosmetology, a viewing, graveside services and cremation, among many others. Depending on the level of observance during a Jewish funeral, a few of these options may not be applicable. In a traditional Jewish funeral, the deceased is buried in a plain wooden casket after the body is washed but not embalmed. There is also typically no public viewing of the deceased. However, it is up to the mourning family to decide what customs and traditions are followed.

Jewish Funeral Home Directory

Finding the right Jewish funeral home after the loss of a loved one can be a sensitive and overwhelming process. Visit's Jewish Funeral Home Directory to view qualified resources in your area.

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Additional Resources

Dignity Memorial is North America’s largest provider of funeral home and cemetery services. Offered through a network of over 2,000 funeral and cemetery providers in the United States and Canada, families are able to search by city or zip code for near by providers.

The Funeral Home and Cemetery Directory provides search results through FuneralNet and the National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors, containing over 21,000 funeral homes around the country, as well as internationally. Searches may be done by city or by funeral home name, and results will provide full contact information.

The Funeral Home Directory is a vast directory of over 30,000 funeral homes and cemeteries across the country. This directory provides a great visual guide to funeral homes in any given area. Funeral Home Directory provides full contact information for each funeral home, as well as basic service pricing for some.

The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association is an international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, funeral service, cremation and memorialization profession. The ICCFA contains over 8,900 funeral homes and cemeteries across the country and internationally. Families can search through member providers by type of service and then by narrowing the search by location.

The National Funeral Directors Assocation is the world’s leading funeral service association, including over 10,000 member funeral homes. NFDA members are committed to the high quality of their service, as well as to trust and intergrity.

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