Decent Burial was regarded to be of great importance since Biblical times. All people of the ancient East feared being left unburied, the Egyptians providing all necessities in the tomb of the deceased for his or her future lives.
The Bible also stresses the importance of proper burial: Jeremiah in Judgement on King Jehoiakim for example says: "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass". The purchase of a burial cave by the patriarch Abraham is another example to prove the length people took to ensure a proper burial.
In Talmudic times burials took place in caves and sarcophagi as well as in catacombs.
Prompt burial was a sign of respect for the dead. In a hot climate it was imperative.
The duty of burial is primarily the duty of the heirs but if this does not happen it is the duty of the entire community.
Rabbinical Legends tell us that when Adam and Eve confronted their dead son Abel's body and were not sure what to do with it, it was the raven who showed them by example how it scratched away a spot in the earth and laid its own kin.
The Burial Society of the United Synagogue of which Mr. Melvyn Hartog is its director -- organizes, oversees and advises on all processes required by both Jewish and English law.
If you are worried that the topic is too serious -- this lecture has very amusing ingredients. You will find much opportunity to laugh -- as the title itself suggests.
Melvyn Hartog -- the Head of the Burial Society of the united synagogue, is a cheerful man.
Having been in this office for 7 years with responsibility for eleven cemeteries and over 70 staff and a --million pounds budget he fills one of the most essential roles in the Jewish community.
His role comes to aid people in the most distressed moments of their lives and it needs a man who combines efficiency and sensitivity to carry it out in the best possible way.
Over the years Melvyn Hartog was involved in activities which helped him to relieve his daily pressure. His most favourite one being a sound engineer for a pop group back in the 70s and being the Chairman of the Friends of Ilford Jewish Primary School as well as motor cruising on his boat. All these activities are energetic and life and fun enhancing.
Mr. Hartog's ethical approach to life finds its expression in being a volunteer chaplain for Wormwood Scrubs prison and of course it manifests itself in his attitude to the issues arising from his daily responsibilities -- he is married with two daughters and one grandson.
Melvyn's services are impeccable. He reports that no one of his clients has ever voiced a complaint against him.