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Making Tachrichim

10/05/2021 02:31:37 PM


Marisa Genna

BHA Member, Marisa Genna is coordinating a group to make the traditional Tachrichim, or clothing used by the Chevra Kadisha to bury the dead.  Here is her blog post detailing the tradition of Tachrichim and why it's important. 

The traditional clothing for burying the dead are tachrichim, simple white garments or furnishings, including a winding sheet (sovev). Their use dates back to Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel II, who, in the second century CE, asked to be buried in inexpensive linen garments. According to the Talmud, Rabban Gamliel observed that the custom of dressing the deceased in expensive clothing put such a terrible burden on the relatives of the deceased, that they would "abandon the body and run." The custom he initiated – which set both a decorous minimum and a limit on ostentation – has been followed by observant Jews ever since. "Whoever heaps elaborate shrouds upon the dead transgresses the injunction against wanton destruction. Such a one disgraces the deceased." The universal use of shrouds protected the poor from embarrassment at not being able to afford lavish burial clothes. Since shrouds have no pockets, wealth or status cannot be expressed or acknowledged in death. In every generation, these garments reaffirmed a fundamental belief in human equality.*

Tachrichim are white and are made without buttons, zippers, or fasteners. Tahrihim come in unbleached muslin or linen, fabrics that recall the garments of the ancient Hebrew priesthood. There is little difference in appearance or cost between them. Tahrihim come packaged in sets for men and women. Regardless of gender, they include a tunic, pants, hood, and belt. The belt is tied to form the shape of the Hebrew letter shin, which stands for Shaddai, one of the accepted representations of God's ineffable Name. If the pants are not closed at the bottom to cover the feet, "booties" are additionally provided. The face is generally covered with a sudarium. Some may also wish to be wrapped in a kittel, a simple, white ceremonial robe that some Jews wear on Yom Kippur, at the Passover seder, and under the wedding canopy.

Why the history lesson? To explain why this very important tradition needs many hands to come to fruition. On Monday, October 16, 23 and 30, from 6:00pm-8:00pm, I invite you to come to BHA and help make the Tachrichim for our members. Sewers are definitely needed (with your machines, and sewing kits please) but if your skills are limited to tracing patterns and cutting out fabric that is most welcome as well. 

Or bring wine and sing to us as we practice this sacred act.

It is an honor to be able to assist the Chevra Kadisha by producing the vestments which our dead will be honored to wear as they return to the earth from whence they came. Please join us in continuing this tradition, please register here to participate. Thank you in advance for your time. 



Thu, June 13 2024 7 Sivan 5784