A Voluntary Service to The Jewish Community
The Chevra Kadisha, literally “The Holy Society,” is Calgary’s oldest Jewish communal organization.
Its mandate to provide Jewish burial services is the continuation of an age-old tradition of burying the dead with dignity, with proper ritual, and as a communal service. Over a thousand burials have been conducted by the Calgary Chevra Kadisha over a 112 year period, all by dedicated volunteers from every spectrum of the community.
The Chevra Kadisha was formed in 1904 when Calgary had only a few Jewish families. An infant, Goldie Bell, died. Her father, Nathan Bell, and Jacob Diamond approached the City and the Jews of Calgary purchased a small plot adjacent to Union Cemetery on 30th Avenue S., on what is now Macleod Trail.
The “Hebrew Burying Ground” cost the tiny Jewish community $160, a substantial sum for the time. There was one burial in 1904 and one in 1906, and there were seven in 1907. The original plot was expanded in 1907, and again in 1909.
When the Congregation House of Jacob was formed in 1907, the Chevra Kadisha was carried on by a synagogue committee (with essentially the same leadership). The community was growing rapidly, and in 1914 the Chevra Kadisha was incorporated as an independent society. First President was Charles Malkin.
Funeral services were conducted in a small building on the cemetery site, from private homes, and later at cooperating funeral homes.
The original cemetery continued to expand, and in 1943, the Chevra Kadisha took over management of a Jewish section of Queen’s Park Cemetery. In 1976, a third Jewish cemetery opened, and is owned and operated by the Beth Tzedec Synagogue.
In 1961, the Chevra Kadisha opened its own funeral chapel on 17th Avenue W. The Chevra Kadisha is now located at the North East corner of Highway 22X and 37 Street SW. Here women and men still religiously perform Tahara – the ritual care and preparation of the deceased – arrange the memorial service, and supervise burial.
It is a labour of love, and a dedication to faith and community.
101, 17818 – 37 Street SW, T2Y 0M9
Corner of 37 Street SW and Highway 22x ( Spruce Meadow Trail)
PHONE: 403-244-4717 (24 Hours)
President Bill Aizanman received a Shem Tov award from Calgary Jewish Federation president Bruce Libin June 21, 2017 in recognition of his years of service. Bill has been a Chevra Kadisha executive member for 26 years, serving as president for 23 years