(JTA) — A city funeral home in Moscow will be converted to a Jewish funeral home, the only one in the city.
The funeral home will operate under the auspices of the Moscow chief rabbinate, the Bais Menachem Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue and the Chevra Kadisha Hamerkazi Jewish burial society of Moscow, according to Rabbi Sheah Deitsch, a Jewish burial society member and Chabad emissary in Moscow.
Deitsch said that the Jewish community in Moscow has had to struggle with city funeral homes over the past two decades to make sure Jewish traditions and death rituals are observed, including fighting to halt unnecessary autopsies and getting permission to perform a tahara, or Jewish ritual purification.
The funeral home, near the local Jewish community center, "will avoid the struggles and red tape that families would face, ever since the fall of communism, when trying to organize a Jewish burial for their loved ones. Doing a Jewish funeral until now has been a nightmare," Deitsch said.
Most of the burials take place in the Jewish cemetery in Malakhovka, a province of Moscow, and a 40-minute drive from the center of Moscow.