Burial brotherhood

A Burial Fraternity, or Chevra Kadisha, is a society within the Jewish community which deals with sickness and death. Members of the Fraternity visit the sick, look after their dependents, and make arrangements for burial in accordance with religious law. Such commandments are of great importance in Judaism, and by obeying them members of the Burial Fraternity earned the respect of society. The fraternities also performed important welfare functions within the Jewish community. There were several burial fraternities in the Judengasse, including the Chevra Kadisha d'Gomlei Chassodim, founded around 1370, and the Chevra Kadisha d'Kabronim, whose statutes were drafted in 1633. Prior to 1828 there were no hearses: the dead were borne from the house of their death to the chapel of rest and thence to the cemetery on stretchers. After the grave had been dug and the corpse cleansed, the custom in Frankfurt was that members of the burial fraternity walked through the streets calling: "Zur Mitzvah" ("Observe the covenant") Burial was considered a sacred duty, in which all had to participate.