Convenience in a Time of Grief with New Options, Families Don't Have to Journey to Obey Jewish Law

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Zalusky Daily Herald Staff Writer

When a Jewish person from the Northwest suburbs died, relatives and friends used to have to travel to Wilmette, Skokie or Chicago for the chapel service.

The same applied when it came to preparing the body according to Jewish law.

And until two years ago, even planning a Jewish funeral meant leaving the Northwest suburbs.

All those concerns are moot issues now that both new and long- established businesses have arrived to meet the funeral needs of a growing Jewish population.

In 1999, Chicago Jewish Funerals, Ltd. opened a storefront in the 300 block of West Dundee Road in Buffalo Grove to help families plan funeral arrangements.

Just last week, however, the firm abandoned the storefront and moved into new digs at 195 N. Buffalo Grove Road to concentrate on a much more ambitious program.

The new location, a former non-sectarian funeral home, will offer something new to Jewish residents in the Northwest suburbs: an actual chapel as well as a room to prepare the body.

Recently, two new kids on the block joined Chicago Jewish Funerals. Actually, they are a couple of old standbys, household names in Chicago's Jewish community.

Piser recently opened an office for funeral and pre-need planning in Arlington Heights on Rand Road just south of Hintz Road.

And if you are driving on Buffalo Grove Road near Aptakisic Road in Buffalo Grove, you will notice the new space where Weinstein Family Services is opening its new resource center.

Despite beginning operation last week, Chicago Jewish Funerals was still taking care of a few housekeeping issues. Some non-Jewish symbols from the old funeral home were still in storage.

David Jacobson, founder and co-owner of Chicago Jewish Funerals said his business was founded in 1997 in Northbrook. In 1999, the firm moved to Buffalo Grove.

Last year, the business served more than 300 families.

"We're the only Jewish funeral home that is locally and independently owned in the Chicagoland area," Jacobson said. He added it is the only one in the area that is Jewish-owned.

"The reason we're doing it is the community needed it and asked for it," said another owner, William Goodman. "We're trying to be responsive to the needs of the Jewish community."

A look at the chapel reveals a spacious room amply stocked with couches for the comfort of guests.

Stepping into another room, one sees the area where bodies will be prepared for burial.

Jewish funerals present unique challenges. The body must be prepared for burial according to Taharah, the practice of purification. …