A few weeks ago, I began a series of sessions on "Life in the Rabbinate" for my avreichim here in the Beit Midrash. In our sessions, we talk about practical issues that come up in the pulpit rabbinate; I generally present anecdotes and issues which came up in my shul years, and we talk about how to handle particular situations.
Our opening topic was "Chevra Kadisha and Funerals", and we had a lot to discuss; we've had two sessions and we're not done. Among the questions we have looked at already:
How do you help a chevra kadisha to codify their policies and customs?
Do we really put a body on the floor if someone dies in the hospital?
Would we perform a taharah before a cremation?
What's a taharah certificate?
What comes up when transporting a body across state or federal lines?
Who may see the body, and when?
What is a kosher casket?
How many eulogies, and who speaks?
Is it really okay to say, "Today is Rosh Chodesh and we don't give eulogies, but I just want to say" and then go on to present a eulogy?
How do you eulogize someone you have never met? Or should you decline?
How can you help a family get ready for a funeral?
What equipment should a rabbi always have at the ready?
Who is in charge at the cemetery – Rabbi? Funeral Director? Head of the Chevra Kadisha? Cemetery Employees?
Are we allowed to have cement liners in graves?
Who carries the casket?
And there is a lot more waiting for the third session…