Thursday, March 09, 2006

Both my parents are long-time members of the chevra kadisha. In years past, my father, in particular, would be frequently called by Mr. Czapnik to come down in middle of the work day to do a taharah and kevurah. The big payoffs were the honey cake we'd get on Erev Rosh Hashanah and the annual Zayin Adar bash my father would attend at the Moriah. (This latter seems to have been a dubious treat since I mainly remember my father complaining about the length of the drashos.) So I'm generally sympathetic to pious paeans to the glories of the chevra occasioned by Zayin Adar.

But a few years ago I got to see Zayin Adar from the consumer side -- and in Israel where the members of the chevra kadisha are paid professionals, not volunteers.

My Tanta Zophie passed away in New York, childless and having already been widowed. The aron arrived in Israel around noon of Zayin Adar. The only melavim were me (I had taken the bus to the airport) and Uncle Duvid (Tanta Z's brother, who had accompanied the aron). The chevra told us to hop in the back of the van with the aron. Whatever. The only problem was that the van didn't turn off at Har Hamenuchot. Instead we went winding through the streets of Geulah until we came to a stop in some alley. It seems the gang was not about to miss the big Zayin Adar bash just for Tanta Z. They were kind enough to invite Uncle D and myself to partake. By the time the boys were ready to get to work and we drove out to the field, it was dark. They put Tanta Z in the ground without fanfare and covered her up in about thirty seconds. As they began to pile back into the van, Uncle D asked if they had a minute for a quick hesped. Everybody waited on their heels as he mumbled a few sentences in Yiddish about his departed sister (a gantz feiner froi). Then we all got back in the van and one of the boys pulled out plastic cups and a bottle of schnapps from the glove compartment and passed around shots. No reason to be cheated out of the last shot just because of work.

Don't be shocked. That really is just how Tanta Z would have wanted it.


Blogger ליפא שנילצער said...

"long-time members of the chevra kadisha"

would'nt put them on my list of friends, just kidden, what a zechiya its such a great mitzvah

10:10 PM  

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