Two Jewish-faith based funeral services have opened up services in Anne Arundel County to prevent the county’s growing Jewish community from taking longer trips for end-of-life religious services.
Sol Levinson & Bros and Fram Monument are family companies that joined together to open a location in Annapolis. The companies have been around for nearly 100 years. They join other religious groups offering local funeral rites to the county’s variety of religions.
The two companies opened up shop in the middle of December at 170 Jennifer Road, suite 150.
“We feel that the Jewish community is growing,” said Matt Levinson, Vice President of Sol Levinson & Bros. “We have been told families and Rabbi’s (want) more of a Jewish presence when people pass away.”
Different religions have different funeral rites whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu or even Muslim. The Jewish tradition practices refrigeration rather than embalming corpses. Often, individuals are dressed in the traditional burial garment known as a shroud, which is a garment made of cotton or pure linen.
This can help Hindu families, who are part of the cremation process, said Bob Kalas, owner.
“Hindu religion like to participate in the cremation,” Kalas said. “They want to witness the person put into the crematory and actually start the process by pushing the button. Which is a little unique, but some families that aren’t Hindu, like to watch as well.”
In the last 20-30 years, cremation has become more popular and half the funerals don’t go to cemeteries, Kalas said. Not having to buy land is cheaper and being able to travel with the remains is a big factor for most.
“When someone comes in here to make funeral arrangements, nowadays we don’t know what the arrangements will be,” Kalas said. “When I first started working 40 years ago we knew what the funeral was going to be before the family walked in. Back then, everyone did the same thing.”
Funeral homes have to be more flexible these days to stay in business, he said.
In the Islamic faith, the body is washed, wrapped in simple white shrouding, brought to a house of worship for communal prayer and then buried as soon as possible, often within 24 hours. Cremation is prohibited.
No matter if a person is rich or poor, they all get wrapped in the same simple cloth.
“Amazingly, the process has been the same since the beginning of Islam,” said Imam Aamir Sheikh, the spiritual and religious leader for the Islamic Society of Annapolis. “One thing that is a newer phenomenon, is adding a headstone to identify the deceased. Historically, headstones were not used.”
If a Muslim dies in an area, he/she is usually buried in that area. Shipping the bodies back to homelands or overseas is “frowned," Sheikh said.
The process of birth and death for Muslims is a simple process; the same way a baby comes into the world with nothing, that same human being leaves it with basically nothing, he said.