Donation Allows Sacred Ritual To Continue Amid Supply Chain Delays
By Kaitlyn Nuebel
When New Community Chevra Kadisha of Greater Pittsburgh ran out of the surgical gowns they need to perform Tahara, a sacred Jewish burial ritual, a donation from Brother’s Brother Foundation was able to fill the void.
From peanut butter to tampons, supply chain issues have made finding everyday items increasingly difficult and some have had significant impacts on Pittsburgh’s communities.
Brother’s Brother Foundation donated nearly 500 surgical gowns to The New Community of Chevra Kadisha (NCCK) of Greater Pittsburgh in June. The Chevra Kadisha, which means “sacred society,” is a group of 3-5 people who perform Tahara, the sacred Jewish ritual that prepares the body for burial.
“It’s basically to prepare the body and the soul for continuing the journey. It’s like a cleansing. We try to send the body on in as pristine of a condition as possible,” Malke Frank, who co-founded NCCK of Greater Pittsburgh in 2004, says.
The ritual, an intimate practice, includes pouring water over the body, reading from the Torah and dressing the body in Tachrichim, white shroud that symbolizes the clothing the high priests wore in the Temple in Jerusalem. Unlike many other Jewish communities in the United States, Pittsburgh has a community-based Chevra Kadisha. With over 60 volunteers, NCCK performs about 100 Taharot each year in the Greater Pittsburgh region, sometimes traveling as far as West Virginia.
The Chevra Kadisha wears surgical gowns to perform Tahara safely. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has supplied NCCK with gowns in the past, but recently they ran out due to supply chain issues. Unable to acquire surgical gowns from their usual supplier, the Federation reached out to BBF. “It was really necessary that we continue to protect ourselves with PPE,” Frank says. “[BBF’s] donation was so wonderful and so gracious and so appreciated.”
BBF’s donation will help the organization perform numerous Taharot in the coming months which will not only honor and respect the deceased but change the perspective of the living.
“I think when people finish doing a Tahara and they leave the place where the Tahara was performed, they have a different kind of sense of themselves,” Frank says. “I’ve really grown to appreciate each day and that life for me is a blessing.”