A Mitzvah of the Highest Order: The Dignified Burial Fund


When Harriette died last summer at age 75, no one came to claim her. The formerly homeless woman had struggled with mental illness and spent her final days in a nursing home, paid for by her Social Security checks. Her case manager could find no living relatives.

With no one to bury Harriette, her body lay in storage at a funeral home, embalmed and alone, for nine days. Then her case manager remembered something important: Harriette had been Jewish.

Burying the dead is often called among the greatest mitzvot because it is a favor that can never be repaid. Yet each year our communities experience the deaths of several indigent Jews — people who cannot afford the cost of even a minimal dignified Jewish burial, which can cost between $5,000 and $7,000. Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia-supported Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) has also noticed a rise in the need for burial assistance.

For those reasons, Jewish Federation, JFCS and the Jewish Federation-supported Female Hebrew Benevolent Society (FHBS) created a plan last year to combine resources, along with local cemeteries and funeral homes, to provide dignified Jewish burials for those in need. The plan came together just as we were notified about Harriette.

On Sept. 25, Harriette was buried in a donated plot in Montefiore Cemetery, with all funeral arrangements handled at a reduced cost by Goldstein’s, and the fee split between JFCS, FHBS and Jewish Federation.

For our part, funds came from our newly-established Dignified Burial Fund, which began with a $10,000 allocation and is now fed by purchases of our tribute cards. From now on, when you send a tribute card to honor a loved one’s memory, you will not only be comforting a community member in their time of need, but also contributing to a special tzedakah.

To send a tribute card, visit Jewishphilly.org/tributecards.

Two Opportunities to Celebrate Purim as a Family

Missed Purim this year? Lucky for you, there are two opportunities March 24 to celebrate Purim with the whole family.

Purim Carnival at KleinLife

The Jewish communities of the Greater Northeast invite one and all to a Purim carnival filled with fun, games, costumes and of course hamantaschen!


March 24, 2019

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.



10100 Jamison Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19116

KI Purim Carnival

Celebrate Purim at KI! Food available for purchase throughout the carnival; featuring Jules Pizza and carnival snack. Pre-purchase a $10 all-play wristband, available by March 22 at kenesethisrael.org/purim. $15 wristband available at the door.

For more information, contact [email protected] or 215-887-8704.


March 24, 2019

12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.


Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel

8339 Old York Road

Elkins Park, PA 19027



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