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Why blog about death?

Why blog about death?

by: Andrew J. Parver, Director of Operations

Rabbi Shmuel Plafker performing the ultimate mitzvah of Chesed Shel Emet

Rabbi Shmuel Plafker performing the ultimate mitzvah of Chesed Shel Emet

Back in 2008, I began blogging about my work at Hebrew Free Burial Association.  Over several years I wrote 75 blog posts on a wide array of topics connected to Jewish death, funerals, and burials.  As part of the launch of our new website we’re bringing back an HFBA blog, written by HFBA employees and guest contributors.

I’d like to begin by republishing my first blog post from 2008 entitled, “Death Could Be Beautiful.”


It was not an easy decision to start a blog about my work. I decided to go ahead with it, with the hopes of being able to present information in a more contemporary, new media manner. I am viewing this blog as an extension of my desk. My digital notepad. I hope to update this space with interesting stories, stimulating links, and any other relevant information to all issues of death.

My opening message is about perspective. When I started working at HFBA, the message was about death and darkness. HFBA’s promotional video was filmed in brutal winter weather, with no life and beauty to be found. Promotional materials were targeted to an older, aging, population.

There was another approach, that I believed would be more relevant in the 21st century. That of life and positives. Our new video was filmed in the late summer. The cemetery is shown with is beautiful foliage. There are videos of children volunteers cleaning Silver Lake Cemetery. New promotional materials emphasize the life of HFBA’s clients.

The constant challenge is presenting death in a positive light. At the end of the day, death is scary. It is dark. It is gloomy. There is no avoiding that reality. However, it can be framed in a positive light. A clean cemetery. Students clearing garbage and raking leaves. Stressing the importance of the work that’s done. Explaining, that while death is sad, what’s sadder is someone dying and being left to rot. Being buried in a mass grave, without any ritual involved.

What’s beautiful is that HFBA exists to ensure that every Jew who passes away receives a dignified Jewish Burial. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

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