Monday, July 12, 2010

Overland Park rabbi, frustrated by funeral costs, negotiates a deal for the dead

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Rabbi Mark Levin fights for cheaper funerals.
  • Rabbi Mark Levin fights for cheaper funerals.

If you're a Jew, you just can't shop around for funerals. According to tradition, cremation is out. To make matters worse, traditional funeral service at one of Kansas City's few Jewish funeral homes can run over $10,000. That's ten grand for a box and some spoken Hebrew in a recently vacuumed room with a few jars of potpourri. Maybe a pot of coffee in the corner if you ask. And you still have to pay for the plot.

It's enough to make your dearly departed spin around in their overpriced

boxes.

But Rabbi Mark Levin of Congregation Beth

Torah in Overland Park -- who's been railing about the high cost of

funerals

for years -- recently started working with area funeral homes on

pricing, and he's having success.

A recent story in the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle profiles Levin's work to ensure that local Jews don't have to call a loan officer just to properly honor their friends and family. And in a recent synagogue bulletin, Levin praises Mount Moriah and Freeman Funeral Home and the Louis Memorial Chapel for working out "budget" funeral plans at his behest.

"The good news is that a respectful Jewish funeral is now available in Kansas City from two very reputable funeral homes for $6,000 or less," Levin writes.

Levin makes some excellent points, citing Jewish practices all the way back to the first century, when Rabbi Gamaliel started the tradition of burying Jews in the least expensive casket and least expensive clothing so that all could be equal in death. Also ... you know ... they're dead. So they're probably not overly concerned with the quality of the program's paper stock.

So take note, priests and ministers. The recession affects goyim, too, you know.

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