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Re: [greenyes] Jewish burial methods
Love this discussion thread.

Thought I'd offer my perspective:  Jewish people customarily bury our dead
in "handmade, simple, perfectly clean, white linen shrouds."  They still do
this in Israel.*  In the U.S., Jews also use unadorned wooden coffins, not
made of metal or anything non-biodegradeble, because according to Genesis
3:19, "For dust you are and to dust you shall return."
An interesting Jewish website adds, "Wood is the only material allowed and
several holes are opened at the bottom to hasten the body's return to the
There are regulations in the U.S. about encasing caskets in concrete shells,
ostensibly to protect the groundwater.  (This is completely ridiculous
since these shells will eventually crack and allow for
decomposition/leaching of remains into the water table.  It's an
energy-intensive waste, but I suspect it soothes some people who cannot bear
to think of their loved ones "being eaten by worms," as an old professor of
mine once said.)  I think Jewish cemetaries may be exempt from this
regulation, but don't quote me on that.

*Incidentally, in 1982 I wrote a short story called "The Shroud" about my
childhood impressions of an Israeli funeral, and it won 1st place in the
National Scholastic Writing Awards.  Will scan and forward it on request!

Personally, I'd like to be buried in a forest or garden--but not anytime


Jennifer Gitlitz
Research Director, Container Recycling Institute

Home Office:
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
Email: jgitlitz@no.address

Container Recycling Institute headquarters:
1911 N. Ft. Myer Dr. #702
Arlington, VA 22209-1603
Tel. (703) 276-9800
Fax: (703) 276-9587

On 12/9/03 2:55 PM, Nicky Scott at NScott@no.address wrote:

> In England - possibly the whole UK it is still (apparently) the law that you
> have to buried in wool (when you die!) I don't think that the law was ever
> repealed.  It was put in to protect the wool industry.  At the moment here
> farmers are burning fleeces - it costs more to shear the sheep than what
> they can sell them for (except for some breeds)
> My wife is a felt maker and has been making woollen shrouds.  She has
> recently won a grant to develop this side of her business.  I don't know
> about the need for freeze-drying surely it is enough for the usual cold
> storage prior to burial?  The body - wrapped in a shroud is carried on a
> wooden bier and buried & is surely the most environmentally friendly end
> (or is it beginning ?)  I can think of  The opposite of polluting anyway - &
> plant a tree on top to negate that burnt body in the crematorium!
> A happy end!
> Nicky Scott 
> (Chair - Community Composting Network, UK)
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:    Nancy Meyer Queen of All Good Things [SMTP:nancy@no.address]
>> Sent:    09 December 2003 17:58
>> To:    
>> Subject:    [greenyes] burial methods
>> At the risk of sounding morbid, insensitive and stirring up all sorts of
>> religious issues, I thought I'd share the following:
>> Swedish scientists are working on a process whereby a deceased person is
>> freeze-dried, placed in a biodegradable cornstarch coffin and composted.
>> for more info, scroll down to the question on human composting
>> Short of organ donation and medical research, I always thought cremation
>> was
>> the only sane way to process dead people (standard burial methods being
>> tremendously nonbiodegradable), but this may have it beat in that it just
>> might take less energy.  Hopefully, both cremation and freeze-drying
>> processes do make sure that all metal plates, artificial joints and other
>> bionic parts are removed first.
>> Anyone know of any other green solutions to the "ultimate disposal
>> problem"?
>> Any communities doing anything to promote things like this?
>> Yours in leaving no trace,
>> NMeyer
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