With a lingering smell of fresh paint in the air and new furniture in place, Greater Cleveland’s newest Jewish funeral home, Cleveland Jewish Funerals, stands ready to provide service to the community.
The funeral home opened at 26801 Miles Road in Warrensville Heights in late May, and since obtaining its license a few weeks earlier, Cleveland Jewish Funerals has been actively working on finalizing their new space.
The Cleveland Jewish Funeral invited the Cleveland Jewish News to its new location for a first-hand look at its facilities and offerings.
From Texas to Ohio
The funeral home is privately owned by Texas-based Jewish Funerals, which the company says has remained fully Jewish-owned and operated since its inception in 2001.
The company has two Jewish funeral homes in Dallas and Houston. Its location in Cleveland is the first outside of Lone Star State.
“We think it’s time for another option of taking care of the community as there is plenty of room for another Jewish funeral home,” said Zane Belyea, co-owner of Jewish Funerals and responsible for community relations.
Belyea attributed the company’s choice of Cleveland for its new funeral home to the ties the owners and investors of Jewish Funerals have with the area. Specifically, the company’s decision to open in an area of Warrensville Heights that borders Orange, Pepper Pike and Solon was made to give Jews of all faiths and backgrounds close proximity to Jewish funeral services.
“We didn’t come here because we felt the community was underserved,” said Andy Starr, co-owner and general manager of Jewish Funerals. “… We wanted to bring the family tradition back to Cleveland, so that the Jewish community here always has that option, where the main driver is local needs.”
The Cleveland Jewish funeral is overseen by residents of northeastern Ohio, David Pearl and Deanna Clingerman.
As the site’s Community Liaison Officer, Pearl, who is a Beachwood resident, is responsible for building relationships with the funeral home and disseminating knowledge about Cleveland Jewish Funerals’ services in the Greater Montreal area. Greater Cleveland. He will be visiting local long-term care facilities in the coming weeks and beyond to build the capacity of Cleveland Jewish Funerals, he said.
“I want to help grow our business, our reach,” said Pearl, member of the Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood. “I want to go to all nursing homes and hospice homes to help families who might need our services or support. (The goal is) really to be a staple in the community.
Clingerman is the funeral director and director. She described her position as making sure everything at the funeral home stays in order, and she also works directly with families to plan funerals and burials. Having obtained her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, she has a background in social work, which she says works well in the funeral industry, she said.
“I’m kind of like the lady in the kitchen who works behind the scenes, making sure everything goes smoothly, making sure people aren’t too nervous or have some sort of emotional reaction, she says. making sure they know someone cares about them, and everything will be fine, ”said Clingerman, who grew up in the Youngstown area and resides in Tallmadge.
Pearl and Clingerman are Jewish, as Belyea said Jewish Funerals aims to hire Jewish staff, use Jewish vendors, and give back to the local Jewish community where possible.
Together, four full-time staff and a care team provide services for the funeral home.
Cleveland Jewish Funerals’ goal is for its services to meet the needs of every Jewish faith and family, Starr said.
The 5,000-square-foot east side facility features an on-site chapel, a shemira room – an enclosed room where a guard watches over a body from the time of death until burial, according to the Jewish ritual – and a tahara room – a room where is washed and purified by a kadisha chevra, also according to the Jewish ritual. In conjunction with staff, families can purchase funeral arrangement packages that take care of details such as preparing and caring for a body according to Jewish rituals, transferring a body to and from the funeral home. and an online obituary.
“Personalization has become such an important thing for people,” Starr said. “… We will move heaven and earth to make sure that whatever the family wants to honor their loved one is what we do. “
The care team is available 24/7 to bring bodies to the tahara room at any time of the day, Belyea said. Funeral staff can meet with families at their homes to discuss funeral arrangements. In this time of COVID-19, a high-tech live broadcast system has been installed in the funeral home to show funeral services online. Additionally, staff are working with another tech company to live stream cemetery services in even higher quality using an app.
Belyea explained that the home will work with any rabbi and congregation to ensure the funeral meets religious standards.
“We really see the rabbis, the chevra kadisha, as a kind of board of directors because it’s important to us,” Belyea said. “We operate on a daily basis based on their expectations and how they want to ensure our families are taken care of. “
A modern facility
The funeral home is modern, but features nods to tradition in details such as the choice of colors, lighting and decor, said David Thal, senior partner and architect, senior project designer and head of project at Weber Murphy Fox, Inc. of Cleveland.
Thal said he worked closely with the owners to design an interior of tranquility and thoughtfulness.
“The design of each space was done in a programming session to really understand the flow and connection from the very first entry point into a hall, then into the chapel, into the shemira room, the meeting rooms. before, ”Thal said. “… Each space has this quality of this feeling of welcome, this kind of calm, while having this link with tradition and reflection.”
From the textured rug to the repeated use of deep indigo, white and metallic, Thal sought to incorporate aspects of Judaism and nature throughout the funeral home. Jewish symbolism subtly dot the space, from intricate mezuzot and twinkling stars of David to framed tree of life imprints.
The entire space plays into the way people think of funeral homes, Starr said.
“We are offering a new, more modern take on the funeral home where it is very well appointed, light and airy, and located in areas where the Jewish community now lives,” said Starr. “It’s a more familiar and comfortable environment for families, so when they have to come and make arrangements, it makes them much more comfortable.
While the Cleveland Jewish funeral has yet to complete their first funeral, Clingerman and Pearl acknowledged that they had a lot of work to do to establish her on the local funeral scene. Pearl said he was already pleasantly surprised when companies started contacting him for advertising opportunities because the funeral home couldn’t start advertising until they received their license.
“I didn’t do anything, these people contacted us,” Pearl said. “The mere fact that they are discovering and knowing us shows that there is such a need for another option here in Cleveland, that they have come to us and have chosen to work with us for their imminent loved one. . “
Belyea and Starr expressed confidence in the staff at the Cleveland site and outlined a one-year plan to prove to the community that they are there to serve them the best they can.
“We have the flexibility to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the family,” Starr said. “We want to serve one family at a time, one rabbi at a time, one congregation at a time, and thus gain their trust. “