What are some commonly asked questions that people have asked?
When did this practice first get started?
The first recorded books found about this practice were discovered in Prague in 1692. That was the period of time in which records of peoples deaths were being recorded by the chevrah kadisha. But the practice itself started as far back as our father Abraham, written in the book of Genesis.
If a congregation is interested in starting a community like this, do they have to institute all of the aspects of what is written here?
No. Each community is going to be unique on what they choose to offer, as well as the talents of those who are serving in their community. Some may choose to work with one area of a chevrah kadisha, or all of them. It is up to each community to decide what they want to start with, and then grow from there.
How do I start these kinds of conversations?
Try to open a conversation with something like, "I was thinking about what I would want done at my funeral..." Approach the subject with a mild curiosity and not one of criticism or sarcasm. Realize that death will happen to ALL of us and it would be wise to plan ahead on what you wish to be done when you pass away.