Frequently Asked Questions

We have heard thousands of questions over the years. Below you will find the answers to some of the more common questions, relating to a variety of subjects.

- What is a "typical" Jewish funeral?
The Jewish funeral is a ceremony that provides an opportunity for the survivors and others to express their love, respect and grief. It permits facing publicly the reality of the death of someone we love. Through the funeral, the bereaved take that first step towards emotional adjustment to their loss. The interment is usually accomplished without delay.

- What types of service are acceptable?
The type of service conducted for the deceased, if not noted in an advance plan, is decided by the family. The service is sometimes held at a chapel or, more commonly, at the graveside. The service may vary depending on the rabbi, cantor or chaplain, or the wishes of the family. A private service is by invitation only, where selected relatives and a few close friends attend the funeral service. A memorial service is a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family's community and religious affiliations.

- Can a funeral service be modified or personalized?
Yes In fact, we recommend it. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life. Our funeral directors are available to discuss all options and ensure the funeral is tailored to the person being honored and remembered. It may be personalized in many unique ways. Contact us at (440) 498-1993 to explore the possibilities.

- Why do we need an obituary notice?
It is helpful to friends and the community to have an obituary notice published, announcing the death and type of service to be held. A notice can be placed in local newspapers (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Lake County News Herald, Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Jewish News), or on the Internet. Our staff can assist in the placement of notices in newspapers outside our immediate service area.

- What do I need to pay up front?
Two items of importance need to be paid on the day of the service or before. They are cemetery fees and clergy honoraria. We will tell you the needed amounts and ask you to give the checks to our funeral director. The funeral director will ensure that your check is delivered appropriately. Of course, when possible, we appreciate prompt attention to our final statement when presented after the funeral.

- What do the funeral directors do?
Our funeral directors are both caregivers and administrators. In their administrative duties, they make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. As caregivers, funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in a Jewish response to death. We are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups in the community.

- What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is place a call to us at (440) 498-1993. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it is not unusual. We will come when your time is right.

- What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
Your funeral director can assist you if a death occurs anywhere on the globe. Contact your hometown funeral director of choice immediately. They will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased person to their community. They may engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as their agent.

- What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming is the temporary preservation of remains for viewing purposes, and is strongly prohibited by Jewish Law. It includes injection of preservative chemicals. We are equipped with a hospital-type refrigeration unit which is the method of choice in Jewish firms everywhere. Only in certain extreme situations would embalming be indicated. 
Please note that embalming may be required if the deceased is being transported by air to another country where local laws need be observed.

- Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition. Cremation sometimes follows a traditional funeral service. We can assist you with appropriate cremation arrangements.

- Can I have a funeral service and a visitation if cremation is chosen?
Yes. Cremation does not preclude having a funeral service and visitation. Cremation is simply one option for final disposition of the body.

- Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?
Yes, but not dramatically.

- How much does a funeral cost?
Funerals can vary widely in cost.  For an adult, full-service Jewish funeral, Shapiro Funeral Services will usually be able to provide a savings of several thousand dollars. This includes all professional services, including transfer and preparation of remains,  use of equipment and services of staff for the ceremony; hearse, limousine, and the purchase of a casket and burial vault when required.

- Has this cost increased significantly?
Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items.

- Why are funerals so expensive?
Funerals are a lot like other Jewish life cycle events. The type and cost will vary according to the choices and budget of the consumer. Not only that, a funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive capabilities. These expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, clergy, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.

- What can I do with unused medications of the deceased?
Cuyahoga County has a Drug Drop Box program. Call 2-1-1- or go to RXDrugDropBox.org or to Sheriff.CuyahogaCounty.us/rx to locate the nearest drop box to you. Medications will be incinerated under law enforcement supervision, to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.

- What about eye glasses?
Eyeglasses can be recycled through donation bins at various locations. WalMart stores are one, or the Lion's Club or the Cleveland Sight Center. If you bring them to us, we will ensure delivery to an appropriate location for you.

Common Cemetery Questions 

The answers below are here because these are the most commonly-asked questions. If yours isn't listed, we invite you to call us. We're here to provide the information you need, when you need it.

- Are cemeteries running out of space?
Just like other open spaces, cemeteries are impacted by increased population density in both urban and rural areas. Cemetery spaces are a finite resource, and as such, are at a premium in some regions.

- What is Perpetual Care?
"Perpetual Care" usually refers to the correct terms Permanent Care or Endowment Care. These Care funds are collected with each Interment Space sale to maintain the grounds, roads, and buildings of the cemetery.

- Can the vault be personalized?
Yes, we can show you the wide range of personalization choices, including customized nameplates and military insignias.

- Are there vaults for cremated remains?
Yes. We offer urn vaults, designed for in-ground burial of cremated remains.

- Can two cremations be performed at once?
Yes. It is extremely rare, but appropriate in some very unusual circumstances. There may be some small extra expense, and the person authorizing the cremation must sign specific permission for this. However, it is possible and it is legal in Ohio.

- Can the family witness the cremation?
Yes, for a nominal fee. Our state-of-the-art cremation facility is set up to allow family members to be present when the body is placed into the cremation chamber.

- Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
No, embalming is not required for burial. It is always your choice. Your decision may depend on such factors as to enhance the deceased's appearance for a private family viewing; or if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the burial.

- Must I purchase a burial vault?
In most areas of the country, state or local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the ground will not sink. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.

- What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?
Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion of being interred in the ground. Furthermore, with the growing shortage of available land for cemetery use, mausoleums will allow for a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space.

- What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum, chapel or in a garden setting, is constructed with numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.

- When can I have a headstone/marker dedication ceremony?
This varies throughout the country, based somewhat on weather function and regional custom. Commonly, in the Cleveland area, one year or so seems to be the norm. Keep in mind that some Jewish cemeteries have specific regulations regarding timing, based on location, size and style of marker and other factors. Discuss this with your headstone manufacturer and, just as importantly, the cemetery. It is most wise to schedule your dedication through the cemetery so they may try to avoid interference in scheduling services.


 Now the Parerwork

- How many death certificates should I request?
The rule of thumb is to order only the number you know you will need to GIVE to individuals or agencies. You should only give one to those who will be giving you back something in return. Certified copies are expensive, so you do not want a file full of them unused. You can always order more later by simply calling us. Many agencies will only need to see a certified copy and then make a copy for their use. They can often return the certified copy to you right away. This is true of the Social Security Administration. It is a good idea to call these places before going in, and specifically ask if they need to simply see a certified copy (sometimes mistakenly called an "Original") or do they need to keep it. Remember, our funeral director will notify Social Security of the death twice: Once electronically and, a few days later, in writing to the Beachwood office on Park East Drive.

- How long does it take to receive the death certificates?
On some occasions, we can hand the certificates to you within a day or two. More typically, it will take about a week. In rare instances, such as when a coroner or medical examiner assumes jurisdiction, there will be a longer wait. It could take a few weeks to a few months. We will advise you on a case-by-case situation.