Pat Quigley, a funeral director at West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home, has been a part of the Reconstructionist Chevra Kadisha of Philadelphia for almost 30 years. A chevra kadisha, a sacred society, is a small group of trained men and women who ensure that the bodies of Jews who have died are properly cleaned and prepared for burial.
“It’s a very beautiful thing,” Quigley said. “It’s a very holy act.”
At West Laurel Hill, the washing rituals of all religions have been temporarily suspended. The chevra kadisha, too, has suspended its ritual washing. However, one important practice — shemira, watching over the body — remains.
Read more about how funeral homes are adjusting to the pandemic here: https://www.jewishexponent.com/2020/03/26/jewish-death-and-mourning-rituals-in-philly-adjust-to-epidemic/