The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

November 2006

Special Dossier: Decision 5767
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Mourning is a show of respect to the departed and to his or her place in our lives. (Chabad) 

PA House Passes Legislation Designed To Expedite Burial Services

Will help funeral directors better accommodate religious customs.

-- Amy Giancoli Hartman 

State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., today supported legislation that would make it easier for families to bury their loved ones within the time frame prescribed by their religious customs and traditions.

"Both Jewish and Muslim customs require that burial of a deceased person occur as quickly as possible, however, the paperwork that funeral directors must file before doing so can sometimes make that difficult," Josephs said. "This legislation would reduce the bureaucracy and work with the families so they can provide the proper tribute to the deceased."

Current law requires funeral directors to take a death certificate to the local registrar before they could obtain a burial permit from the Department of Health. Josephs said this process can delay a person's burial, which could run counter to that person's, or his or her families', religious beliefs.

The bill (S.B. 983) that passed the House would allow the Department of Health through the local registrars to issue blank, pre-signed burial permits to funeral directors. Funeral directors could issue the permit immediately, and then would have 96 hours after the person's death in which to file the death certificate and burial permit with the department.

"This would allow them to continue with the funeral and burial process without delay," she said.

Both Jewish and Muslims customs require that burial of the deceased take place within 24 hours of death, if possible.

The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.