CHESED SHEL EMES PLANS NEW BUILDING PROJECT
As Chesed Shel Emes approaches our 90th year on Main Street, we are working to ensure that our Chevra Kadisha will continue to be an integral part of our Jewish community for generations to come. We are committed to maintaining our magnificent Chapel in which funeral services are held. The heart of our building, our shmira and tahara facilities, will be replaced with a safe, accessible and functional new building, which will enhance our ability to care for the community with dignity.
In 1930, the Chevra Kadisha purchased a 25 year old house at 1023 Main St. The “House”, as we still call it, served as both the mortuary and preparatory space and as a funeral parlor for services. In November 1947 the newly-built Chapel was opened, and served as a community space for funerals, concerts, teas, Chanukah parties and dances. Since 1947 we have independently owned, operated and lovingly maintained both buildings.
Chesed Shel Emes was incorporated in 1930 as a non profit organization with a mandate to provide ritual preparation (tahara) to Jewish deceased, and to take responsibility for those without means or those with no family to bury them. Chesed Shel Emes is the home of our community Chevra Kadisha - the group of men and women who accompany the deceased as shomrim, sew tachrichim (traditional burial outfits), or perform the tahara ritual. Literally translated as a “holy society” we are dedicated to providing support and honor for the dying, the dead, and their families.
As an independent entity; we do not own nor are we owned by a synagogue or a cemetery. We operate on a fee for service basis , and we are a registered charity. We work in partnership with our local cemeteries to ensure that no one is denied a dignified Jewish funeral and burial due to lack of funds. Our Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from each one of our community synagogues, and members at large. Our Chevra members are from all walks of life and all streams of Judaism.
Our name, Chesed Shel Emes, is translated as true loving kindness. The word chesed appears 248 times in the Torah, and it is most often translated as mercy or grace, but it’s more than that. Chesed is giving of oneself without thought of repayment, without measure. Chesed is bound up with a sense of mutual responsibility, covenant, and deep connection to our fellow Jews.
Chesed is the foundation of everything we do on Main Street, as we serve the community with respect and gratitude.
We look forward to sharing details of our building project with you in the new year.
Shmira- Honoring Body and Soul
In keeping with traditional Judaism , we honor body and soul , and comfort mourners by safeguarding every member of our community.
Family and friends are welcome and encouraged to participate with us in this chesed shel emet, act of true loving kindness.
Attending a Service
Parking is available on the side streets and across Main St.
Legacy Flame Information
Kavod v’Nichum & Gamliel Institute
Veteran Chevrah Kadisha Member Elected President of North American Chevrah Kadisha organization.
Former Winnipeger Kerry Swartz of Vancouver, BC, has been elected Board President of Kavod v’Nichum, a North American organization dedicated to the work of the Chevrah Kadisha; restoring Jewish traditions and values of honoring the dead (kavod hamet) and comforting the bereaved (nichum avelim). His election to this position became effective January 1, 2017.
Kavod v’Nichum works throughout North America to educate Jewish communities about the rituals and traditions which guide us in sickness, death, and mourning.
Founded in 2000, Kavod v’Nichum has sponsored 15 annual conferences across North America, published books and reference materials for Chevrah Kadisha groups and synagogues, and operates an expansive website with information on every aspect of the end of life continuum. In 2014, Kavod v’Nichum received a Slingshot Award as one of the top 50 inspiring and innovative Jewish organizations and programs in North America.
New or existing Chevrah Kadisha groups, synagogue Chesed committees, hospice workers, chaplains, and community volunteers are able to tap into the network of experienced teachers, Rabbis, and community development volunteers, who work cooperatively to support Jewish values at the end of life through community education, Chevrah training, and advocacy.
A major aspect of the efforts of Kavod v’Nichum is the Gamliel Institute, an online educational program focussed exclusively on Jewish practices, liturgy, history, text, and thought about the end of life. The goal of the Gamliel Institute is to train a cadre of leaders across the continent who are able to implement a wide array of projects and programs in their home communities, making Jewish end of life care available to all who wish it.
Jewish communities from coast to coast often have well established Chevrah Kadisha or Burial Societies. Some groups may be synagogue based, others community based. Some may own cemeteries or funeral chapels, and some may operate in non-Jewish funeral homes. For the most part, Jews are easily able to access the Chevrah for traditional Jewish preparation (taharah) and burial in a Jewish cemetery. Based on the teachings of Rabban Gamliel in the 2nd century, our practice reflects the values of modesty, simplicity, equality, and respect. No one is turned away due to financial constraints.
Swartz, 55 is a father or two, originally from Winnipeg, He joined the Chevrah in Victoria, B.C. after the death of his father in 1996. Upon relocating to Vancouver, he became an integral member of the Vancouver Chevrah Kadisha, involved in everything, ranging from a short stint as a casket maker, to transporting the deceased, taking part in Shmirah (guarding the deceased) and Taharah (ritual preparation of the deceased), to attending burial Minyanim (prayer services consisting of a quorum) at Jewish cemeteries in Vancouver. He is one of two Canadian graduates of the Gamliel Institute, and serves on the Faculty. Swartz, a professional photographer and graphic designer, has served on the Board of Kavod v’Nichum for several years in the areas of social media, publishing, and web presence. When asked why he was drawn to the work of the Chevrah, Swartz shares that, “it was the one area of true Halachic (Jewish law) egalitarian treatment within Judaism. All Jews, regardless of gender, wealth or poverty, are treated with the same level of respect, loving kindness, and care in death.”
Swartz’s wife, Vancouver filmmaker Analee Weinberger, has produced a short film about Taharah which features both Swartz and the Winnipeg Chevrah Kadisha.
Swartz plans to carry forward the mission of Kavod v’Nichum: to encourage communities and synagogues to take control of funerals and burials, and to educate the entire Jewish community in the power of the mitzvot (commandments) of honoring the dead, comforting the bereaved, and protecting and shielding bereaved families from exploitation.
Family and Community Pallbearers
Please choose individuals who are able to lift and carry.
Remember that conditions at the cemetery may wet or slippery.
If you are unable to provide 6 Jewish men, please contact us.
Volunteer pallbearers are community members who make themselves available to assist a family at time of need, or to accompany a deceased who has no family.
We have been blessed with many dedicated, long serving volunteers, and now we need to replenish our community list.
If you are a physically able male, and not a Kohen, please consider adding your name to our volunteer list.
Dropping off a Tallit
Family should be in touch to arrange dropping off a loved one’s tallit the day before the funeral service . We ensure that every man has a tallit for burial.
If a woman wore a tallit , family is invited to bring it.
Please come to the office at 1023 Main St. If no one is available to assist you, place the tallit in our secure mail slot located on our 2nd front door.