Shroud Crowd

A key component of our ritual is halbashah, the dressing of the met/a in tachrichim (traditional burial garments) once the tahara is completed.  From its beginning, Chevra Kavod haMet has obtained tachrichim from vendors in New York City, but recently a group of volunteers from Congregation Neveh Shalom has been working on creating tachrichim from donated fabric. The group, dubbed The Shroud Crowd by Neveh Shalom’s Rabbi Kosak, meets every month. After months of work, we now are able to produce enough sets to meet the needs of the Chevra going forward.

Some members of the Shroud Crowd are very familiar with traditional Jewish burial practices, while for others it was a surprise to to learn what the “mitzvah project” was that they had signed up for, but all approach the tasks with great compassion and concentration. Some participants are well-versed in sewing techniques, while some have no interest in the needle arts. There is always plenty of work for everyone who comes.

Of course, anyone is welcome to help out with this project, and everyone is encouraged to consider creating their own set of tachrichim for themselves and their loved ones; patterns are available for anyone who is interested.  We have taken the pattern designs and directions from the website www.threadsoftradition.org, which was created by a group of women in Santa Clara County California who sew tachrichim for their community.  Their group is informally called Sew What?  and we thank them most kindly for sharing this information.  If you would like to be added to the Shroud Crowd notification list or would like to make arrangements to borrow a set of patterns, please send an e-mail to sandyaxel@msn.com and Sandy will let you know about upcoming meetings.

In Their Words
I feel that I have been blessed with the ability to do this mitzvah. Some people have beautiful voices and others play musical instruments. I feel that being able to perform tahara is a gift from G-d.
— Natalie, Englewood, New Jersey
The most rewarding part of doing a tahara is the sense of continuity of the lifecycle and the connection with the Jewish people historically. In many ways I get the same feeling when I light the Sabbath candles...It binds me to the community of Jews throughout the ages and throughout the world.
— Phyllis, Greenfield, Massachusetts
Imagining the grace and respect my mother was afforded in death is an ongoing source of comfort. Her tahara affirms her abiding presence even though she has passed from this life.
— Helen, Daughter of Sabina Mager, z"l
In my entire life, I don't think I've done anything more worthwhile than serve on the Chevra Kadisha.
— Saul, New Orleans, Louisiana
Knowing my parents' lifetime of dedication to Jewish living will end with this time honored tradition, and that they will be treated with the ultimate respect and honor, is of huge comfort to me and our family.
— Mark, Portland, Oregon
Knowing my grandmother was lovingly cared for by members of our community's Chevra Kadisha was such a comfort to me in my hours of grief. I had cared for her for so long. In the end, I felt so much trust in the women who continued to give her the love and attention she deserved.
— Sharon, Eugene, Oregon