Cremation is tragic, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

YOU can have the zechus to make an eternal difference!

YOU can have the zechus
to make an eternal difference!

Care for a meis mitzvah.
perform chesed shel emes.
help a Jew choose kevurah.

Get updates on how Last Kindness is changing the way stories end.

    The Painful Reality

    0
    Minutes

    Every 16 minutes in the US, another Jew is cremated.

    0 %
    Cremation rate

    Approximately half of American Jews are choosing cremation. Unfortunately, this trend is growing.

    0
    Neshamos

    In America alone, 30,000 souls are irreparably harmed by cremation every year.

    Our People, Our Responsibility

    “מת בעיר כל בני העיר אסורין בעשיית מלאכה”

    “When someone dies, all of the city’s residents are forbidden from work (until the burial is arranged).”

    — Moed Katan 27b, Codified in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch.

    Each and every one of us is obligated to help EVERY JEW receive a proper burial.

    “In America today, every [secular] Jew who dies is a potential meis mitzvah.”

    ”וואס הייסט א מת מצוה אין אמעריקא? א יעדער איד וואס שטארבאט.“
    — Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l (circa 1983)

    The modern-day meis mitzvah is quite different from the meis mitzvah of the past. Classically, a meis mitzvah was a body found with no one to bury them. The meis mitzvah of today is choosing cremation, and therefore will not be buried. Caring for the meis mitzvah of today requires a new approach, a proactive approach.

    “In America today, every [secular] Jew who dies is a potential meis mitzvah.”

    “.טאבראטש סאוו דיא רעדעי א ?אקירעמא ןיא הוצמ תמ א טסייה סאוו”
    ”.וואס הייסט א מת מצוה אין אמעריקא? א יעדער איד וואס שטארבאט“
    — HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l (1980’s)

    Ensuring Kevurah for Every Jew is Our Communal Responsibility

    Last Kindness Is Endorsed by

    Our People, Our Response

    Last Kindness, an initiative of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha, is dedicated to helping every Jew choose and receive dignified burial. 

    Here's what we're doing:

    DEDICATED
    WEBSITE

    STAFFED
    HELPLINE

    EDUCATIONAL
    VIDEOS

    PROFESSIONAL TRAININGS

    WORKSHOPS
    &WEBINARS

    SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

    PRINT
    MATERIALS

    Your People, Your Opportunity

    As Torah-observant Jews we have both the obligation and the opportunity to care for all of Hashem’s children.

    Here's what you can do:

    Learn Why and How

    Join a workshop or bring a webinar to your community.

    Learn Why so many Jews are opting out of burial and How you can make all the difference.
     

    Partner with us

    Join Last Kindness.

    Invest in the ultimate chesed shel emes. Prevent the cremation of a fellow Jew and enable all Jews to choose and receive proper kevurah.

    Start the Conversation
    Identify one person in your life at risk for cremation and pledge to start one of the most consequential conversations you will ever have. Speak to one person. Care for one neshama.
    Spread the Message

    Get the word out. Share these
    posts through Whatsapp or social
    media. Print a sign for your shul to
    raise awareness in our community
    about this very real tragedy.

    Share Your Story

    Have you had the conversation?

    Did you take action?

    Share your story to inspire others.

    Your People, Your Opportunity

    As Torah-observant Jews we have both the obligation and opportunity to care for all of Hashem’s children. 

    Spread the message, reach out, and help every Jew recieve the burial they deserve.

    Here's how you can get involved:

    Learn the Facts

    Understand why so many Jews are choosing cremation. Learn why burial is important for everyone. Equip yourself with the knowledge to engage in a meaningful and respectful conversation. Explore LastKindness.org


    Spread the Message
    Whether you know it or not, someone you know may likely choose cremation. Get the word out. You can make a difference. Share these posts through Whatsapp or social media. Print a sign for your shul to raise awareness about this very real tragedy.

    Spread the Message

    Whether you know it or not, someone you know may likely choose cremation. Get the word out. You can make a difference. Share these posts through Whatsapp or social media. Print a sign for your shul to raise awareness about this very real tragedy.

    Start the conversation

    Sometimes all it takes is one conversation to affect the eternity of someone you know. Sometimes it takes many. Start the conversation. Speak to one person. Care for one neshama.

    Real People, Real Stories

    Care enough to get involved. You can make all the difference.
    Here’s how people like you succeeded by taking action and reaching out to prevent the cremation of a fellow Jew.

    When the Jewish owner of a healthcare facility found out that Misha, an elderly Jew with little family, was likely going to be cremated, he cared enough to say something, and helped Misha put his burial wishes into writing.

    Misha was given an eternal gift because someone cared.

    When a Jewish couple decided to cremate because they thought it was the more environmentally-friendly option, a caring nurse stepped in and provided them with the true facts – that burial was actually the greener choice.

    Cremation was prevented because someone cared.

    When Donna learned that her parents were planning to be cremated, she persisted and regularly spoke to them about how important and meaningful burial was to her.

    Donna’s parents both received proper kevurah because someone cared.

    Get updates on how Last Kindness is changing the way stories end.

      Chaim P* is the owner and administrator of an adult medical day care. Last year, a Jewish Russian client passed away and Chaim wanted to give her the final kavod of levayas hameis.  When Chaim inquired about the funeral and burial details, he was told there would be none as she was being cremated.  Chaim tried to speak to the family about the importance of burial but it was too late–their decision was made and set. 

      Pained by this experience, Chaim cared enough to start a conversation with Misha, another Jewish Russian client, about his final wishes. Misha, a secular Jew with one intermarried son with whom he had a strained relationship, shared that his son would likely choose cremation since it was the easier and cheaper option. Misha stated that although he did not live a very Jewish oriented life, he felt strongly identified as a Jew and wanted to die as a Jew. 

      Encouraged by Chaim’s interest, Misha felt comfortable asking Chaim to ensure he would receive burial – and he did. Chaim helped Misha complete the paperwork assigning decision-making authority for his postmortem care to someone committed to follow through on Misha’s wishes for burial. Within one week of the paperwork completed, Misha returned his soul to his Maker.  Due to Chaim’s interest and assistance, Misha received a tahara and burial k’halacha.

      *Names have been changed to protect privacy.

      Sara D.* is a nurse practitioner who has a close relationship with many of her patients.   During an office visit, Sara asked Eileen, a long standing patient if she ever gave thought to her afterlife care wishes.  Eileen said that she and her husband put in their wills that they wanted to be cremated.  

      Sara was surprised because Eileen was a strongly identified Reform, Jew heavily involved in the Jewish community. Sara respectfully asked why they had made that choice and opened a conversation.  Eileen shared they were choosing cremation because it was the more environmentally-friendly option. When it was explained how burial is actually the greener choice, Eileen and her husband changed their choice…and their wills. When their time comes, Eileen and her husband will receive proper burial because someone shared information.

        * True environmentalists advocate for green burial — returning the body to the ground in its most natural state.  Jewish Burial = Green Burial. In traditional Jewish burial and through the tahara process, anything external to the body is removed, the body is gently washed and dressed in all natural, completely biodegradable shrouds without metal or plastic. The body is buried in the most eco-friendly simple pine casket.  If state law allows, the body may be buried directly into the ground without any casket at all, as is commonly done in Israel. When a body decomposes, it replenishes nutrients to the earth.

      In contrast the ovens used in the cremation process utilize enormous amounts of fossil fuels and release mercury and other toxins into the air.  Some parts of the country have statutory limits on the number of cremations that can be done because of their harmful impact on air quality. The ash remaining from the cremation process is devoid of any DNA and does not provide any replenishment of nutrients to the earth. Of note, embalming, forbidden by Torah law, uses formaldehyde, classified by the CDC as a “highly toxic systemic poison” and the EPA as “a probable human carcinogen”.

      **Names have been changed to protect privacy.

      Donna A.* is a Baalas Teshuvah. Her mother had a innate fear of being buried, and decided that she wanted to be cremated when she died. Donna’s father believed that cremation was a better choice because it didn’t use up land.

      Donna and her husband, Josh*, began to speak with Dona’s parents about burial vs cremation from the time they got married. They shared the benefits of burial and how it was the superior choice for the environment. Every time they went to visit a family grave, they would let Donna’s parents know how special it was for there to be a physical place to visit. They bought them the book Burial vs Cremation by Rabbi Doron Kornbluth. At one point, they bought plots for Donna’s parents. Purchasing plots was a significant financial undertaking for them at the time but they did it as a concrete act of hishtadlus.

      Three years after the plots were purchased, Donna’s mother’s health took a downward turn. Donna continued to speak to her mother, explaining that losing her was going to be incredibly painful, a pain that would be exacerbated if she was cremated. Donna also expressed how much she wanted a place to visit after her passing. After years of conversation and seeing how important it was to Donna, Donna’s mother agreed to be buried.  She passed away soon after and was zocheh to kevurah.

      After the burial, Donna’s father reimbursed them for the plots and said that he too, decided to be buried. After he passed away, he was buried as well. Every time Donna visits her parents’ graves she takes a picture to send to her siblings – to show them how meaningful burial is. She hopes this will make an impression on them so they too will choose burial for themselves when the time arrives.

      *Names have been changed to protect privacy.