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Re: [greenyes] composting coffin
December 11, 2003

Dear All-

Following up on Jenny's email, I thought to offer my comments:

Although I don't agree with all of Jewish tradition, when it comes to death and mourning, I think my religion is overall on target. We, Jews in Israel ( I realize that in the U.S. states mandate certain burial practices) bury people in a plain cloth shroud (muslin, cotton or linen) directly into the ground. Harvesting of organs for transplants is permitted by Jewish law (as one guiding principle of of Judaism is the saving of life), as is washing the body (as an act of purification). Otherwise, the body is not tampered with (autopy is permitted only under extenuating circumstances). Moreover, following this line of thinking, Jewish burial takes place shortly after the time of death. These practices are derived from the idea that people were created in the image of G-d. Dressing up the body, fancy coffins, etc. (as Jenny Gitlitz points out in her informative email) is more or less seen as insult (some would say a defilement of G-d's Creation).

So while I am an advocate of composting (I have my own composter and I am getting it started as a neighborhood project), I draw the line with following traditional Jewish burial practices.
All the best,
Debbie Rubin Fields

PS-For more on the above subject, I recommend THE JEWISH WAY IN DEATH AND MOURNING by Maurice Lamm.

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