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Transcript of interview with Laura Sussman and Wendy Kraft by Barbara Tabach, February 17, 2016






They've been referred to as the two Jewish mothers who own a funeral home. At first glance that seems too simple a description. However, it is how they arrived at this description that tells a story of two women who moved here in the late 1990s and whose paths crossed as they became part of the Jewish community of Las Vegas. Laura Sussman arrived first. It was 1997. The Jewish Community Center, a JCC without walls as Laura puts it, hired her as its first executive director. She was from Ohio where there was a robust Jewish tradition. She was director for eight years; then executive director at Temple Beth Sholom. Wendy Kraft moved to the valley in 1999. She was a stay at home mom from Boston, who was accustom to volunteering in the Jewish community. Knowing no one and on the brink of divorce, the Jewish community became her life, a way to build a network of friends and keep her occupied just as it had been in Boston. The two women met through their work with the JCC and love followed. Several years later, in 2009, so did their new business, Kraft-Sussman Funeral and Cremation services. By February 6, 2015, Laura and Wendy had married. They had already formed a family with each other and their three daughters, Leah Sussman, Emma and Elyse Kraft. In this interview they discuss their joint sense of purpose that includes love of family, dedication to the Jewish community, pride in the LGBT identity, and providing caring services to those at the time of funeral services. They talk also of Jewish traditions related to death, the Jewish burial society known as Chevra Kadisha, and challenges of their industry. They share feelings about nonprofits and how they value being actively involved in the community.

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Laura Sussman and Wendy Kraft oral history interview, 2016 February 16. OH-02577. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURA SUSSMAN & WENDY KRAFT An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ?Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV ? University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White Editors and Project Assistants: Maggie Lopes, Amanda Hammar iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader?s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE They?ve been referred to as the two Jewish mothers who own a funeral home. At first glance that seems too simple a description. However, it is how they arrived at this description that tells a story of two women who moved here in the late 1990s and whose paths crossed as they became part of the Jewish community of Las Vegas. Laura Sussman arrived first. It was 1997. The Jewish Community Center, a JCC without walls as Laura puts it, hired her as its first executive director. She was from Ohio where there was a robust Jewish tradition. She was director for eight years; then executive director at Temple Beth Sholom. Wendy Kraft moved to the valley in 1999. She was a stay at home mom from Boston, who was accustom to volunteering in the Jewish community. Knowing no one and on the brink of divorce, the Jewish community became her life, a way to build a network of friends and keep her occupied just as it had been in Boston. The two women met through their work with the JCC and love followed. Several years later, in 2009, so did their new business, Kraft-Sussman Funeral and Cremation services. By February 6, 2015, Laura and Wendy had married. They had already formed a family with each other and their three daughters, Leah Sussman, Emma and Elyse Kraft. v In this interview they discuss their joint sense of purpose that includes love of family, dedication to the Jewish community, pride in the LGBT identity, and providing caring services to those at the time of funeral services. They talk also of Jewish traditions related to death, the Jewish burial society known as Chevra Kadisha, and challenges of their industry. They share feelings about nonprofits and how they value being actively involved in the community. Wendy Kraft (left) and Laura Sussman with daughters Elyse, Leah and Emma. (2012) vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Laura Sussman & Wendy Kraft February 17, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface???????????????????????????????..?..iv ? v Laura begins by telling story of moving to Las Vegas from Ohio in 1997 to work for the Jewish Community Center [JCC]; first full-time executive director for local JCC; background of JCC and leadership; Rhonda Glyman; Joyce Scheinman, founding president; consistent mostly of game activities in a room at the Jewish Federation building on Maryland Parkway; no facility so rented spaces throughout the city; met Wendy on the JCC board; sources of funding and lack of donors; goal to create leadership for JCC. Mentions: Carol Pockey, Denis Abramow, Barbara Kirsch, Janet Wellish, Sara Mason, Paul Bodner???????????????????..?.1 ? 5 Talks about why people want a JCC; low affiliation rate of synagogues; JCC creates a sense of community; Bet Knesset Bamidbar social activities; Jewish geography; camper story; differences between Ohio and local Jewish commitments; BBYO small; more about the summer camp held at Hebrew Academy (now Adelson Campus); advocates of bringing in Israeli culture; carpooling from east side of valley???????????????????????????..5 ? 8 Wendy talks about what brought her to Las Vegas from Boston in 1999; met Laura through JCC; being on JCC board among many other Jewish organizations; how easy it is to get involved in Las Vegas; experience in Boston that she brought with her. Mentions: Laura Eisenberg, Jewish Family Service Agency (JFSA), Jewish National Fund (JNF), Women?s Division of Jewish Federation, Hadassah????????????????????????????????..9 ? 11 From JCC, Laura went to Temple Beth Sholom as executive director for four years, then in 2009 they open Kraft-Sussman; talks about starting Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society, for Conservative temples; mentions Edie Goldberg, Linda White, Alma Brooks, Carolyn Cravant. Hired by Bunkers Funeral Home to do a Jewish program and how that evolved to Kraft-Sussman vii Funeral Services. Purpose of Chevra Kadisha; tahara; how differs between Conservative and Orthodox services.???????????????????????????? 12 ? 15 Challenges of operating a funeral services business, especially for two women; attraction to the business; competitors with Bunker Funeral Home and Palm Mortuary; networking and community involvement pays off. Describe their merged families of three daughters [Emma, Elyse, and Leah]. Explain Jewish funeral rituals and how business operates; own no cemetery or crematorium; cremation option and Jews; seven local cemeteries for Jewish burial; Veterans Cemetery?16 ? 24 Mentions green burials; custom of sitting with bodies; local funeral cost relatively low; providing educating consumers, for example, class for Brandeis; ?removal services?; long days; taking all calls their business receives?????????????????????????25 ? 28 Talk about Las Vegas becoming ?home?; started a Jewish camping group through JCC; LGBT community in Las Vegas; Wendy?s leadership conferences for Human Rights Campaign and Hadassah; both have served Gay and Lesbian Community Center board; being openly gay; Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning; Rabbi Yocheved Mintz; Rabbi Malcolm Cohen; served on JFSA board; memberships at synagogues; need for collaboration between various Jewish nonprofits????????????????????.?????..29 ? 40 Appendix.??????????????????????????????...?41 ? 51 viii ix [Today is February 17th, 2016. This is Barbara Tabach. This is going to be a joint interview, but for the moment I am just sitting with Laura Sussman. Wendy Kraft will join us shortly. Laura, spell your name for me first. L-A-U-R-A. Sussman, S-U-S-S-M-A-N. You've lived in Las Vegas how long? Since 1997. Tell me the story about what brought you here. I worked for the Jewish Community Centers in Ohio and they were recruiting for an executive director, the first full-time executive director position at the JCC. I came out, interviewed, and thought that Las Vegas was not for me, as I am very nature oriented. I saw the buildings and the Strip. They took me out to Red Rock and it happened to be snowing and there were burros walking around. I'm like, all right, I'll think about it. And I came out to be the executive director of the JCC. So I'm going to start there and then we'll work backwards in your life. So the JCC in Las Vegas, what do you know about what was going on before you got here? When I came in, it had a pretty active board and lay leadership. They had committees. Rhonda Glyman was the president at the time. Joyce Scheinman was the founding president, which had taken place about ten years earlier I think. There were a lot of people that had JCCs in communities they had come from, mostly, Chicago/Midwest. They wanted a professional to help get it to the next level. So it was a JCC without walls. There were different activities going on, mostly preschool groups where moms and their children would get together, play groups, and then there were some adult activities, like card games, Pinochle and Mahjong games, but not a 2 whole lot else going on. But there were a lot of people who were interested. [Pause in recording] So I was saying that the JCC was all lay-led volunteers. There were probably twenty or thirty people that were involved, mostly young mothers and older retired people. So it was activities that could take place with those groups of people and that was pretty much the extent of it. They had one room in the [Jewish] Federation building on Maryland Parkway; they had volunteers come in and they did the bookkeeping and just sort of kept track of everything. It was really a mess, but and people that were involved were happy. Then I came in May of 1997. I was like a one-person show, aside from the lay leaders who were really committed. We started a camp for young children. We had cultural arts programming. We held a Jewish book festival and we brought in nationally known speakers. We tried to create activities for different groups. We had a whole cultural arts series. We did trips, day trips, and we had sports leagues. We tried to create a Jewish Community Center like would be in any other community but without a facility. So we leased space from the libraries, schools, religious organizations. Back then?which was not that long ago, '97?there were a lot of places you could use. The libraries weren't as booked up as they are now. Sometimes the schools would let you go in. We rented space at one of the county community centers every Sunday because the county didn't need it on Sunday. So we really created a great activity. We had hundreds and hundreds of people that were involved. It was really an exciting time for the JCC. Many of us thought we were serving the community in such a way that we didn't necessarily need a building, because the community was so dispersed. In most cities you have a Jewish Community Center and that becomes the hub of where people move to. Because there 3 was no facility, people moved all over the place. When they moved to Vegas, they live out in Centennial or Aliante or Henderson or wherever. So we tried to do programs where they were instead of having people have to come to one location. So really it was fun. I had a great time. I had great leaders. Wendy was actually on my board. WENDY: That's how we met. Ah, okay. But we had a lot of exciting stuff going on and we were pretty much self-sufficient with donations, memberships, and program dues. We got a little bit of support from the Federation and United Way. We had a lot of community support, not enough to build a building. We did do a feasibility study and I have a copy of that here, I think. But we never could get enough funding to build. One of the challenges was that some of the established community grew up without a JCC in Las Vegas and for them that wasn't a priority. And the people that were moving here, the older ones that maybe had the resources had done it in their old community, which you've probably heard, and the younger ones just didn't have the resources to commit millions of dollars. We weren't able to get any of the people that had the resources to get behind the project long enough. They were in and out, but not long enough to get it built. And the dispersed nature of [Jewish population]? Like, where should it be? Right. That always seems to be the big bump in the road. Right. But there was a lot of excitement about the Park Run [off Charelston] property because the I-215 at that point wasn't built yet; it was being built and it seemed accessible enough. But then there were issues. 4 I come from Ohio. In Cleveland and Columbus, there are really developed Jewish communities and the philanthropy there is excellent. If you weren't part of the donor community, you weren't part of the community. If you gave and you supported, you were part of the community. Here, you could be part of the community without doing anything, making any commitment, and that was really tough because there was just no sense of philanthropy. WENDY: You cultivated your people. A lot of them were fantastic because you taught them. They had no experience. Oh, that's a good point. Right. I should tell our transcriber for the record that Wendy Kraft has joined us. Spell your name for me. K-R-A-F-T. And Wendy with a Y? Yes. Right. I mean my leadership had never had any positions of leadership in nonprofits before. A lot of them were housewives. They had never had a career. One of the results was, after we got done working with them, is they went on to great careers. Who were some of those people? Like Carol Pockey, who was basically a homemaker, a physician's wife. She worked her way up through the committee process and became a committee chair and then we convinced her to be president. She was great. I wish you could have seen the fear in her eyes on day one and the posture on the day she left. She was mentoring the new president by the time she was done. She was outstanding. Those are my days. 5 A big goal of mine was to create leadership. That was a real focus. It took a good, three, four, five years to get a good core of people that, aside from being enthusiastic and giving their time and money and resources, actually had skills, leadership skills. So some of the leaders...Scott Ober, who is pretty much a natural leader and he was a principal of a school. Rhonda Glyman was president when I came in. She had been in the workforce, but very little nonprofit and we worked. Denise Abramow is a past president. Sara Mason, who got involved and was vice president, would have been president, but then we had a shakeup of stuff going on. There were some really great people that were totally committed. Barbara Kirsh, who was never president, but on the executive committee, she loved the JCC. That was her life because they had a daughter and she would volunteer for anything. Roberta Brown. Janet Wellish. You've probably heard her name. These were great people that couldn't do enough to get this going for the community. Paul Bodner. He was so wonderful. Paul Bodner, yes. He passed away last year. But he had been a former JCC employee, not here but as a kid, worked at camp, youth groups, and was a great energy behind the JCC here. So the whole concept of JCC still sort of struggles for its future, it seems. Yes. But what would you say: why do people want it? Why do people still today want a JCC? It's community. It's a place to get together and be with your people. I think there is such value for children to be together with other Jews. You don't have to worry about if?you're not playing basketball on Shabbos [the Sabbath]. So all Jews regardless of their level of observance can get together. It's safe. It's like you want your kids to have nice friends. It's a great place. But then also for older people; especially coming here (to Las Vegas), it's like a melting pot. 6 Everybody is coming here from somewhere else and there's no real Jewish community. The synagogues have, what, a three, four percent affiliation rate? So the JCC, it's a low-cost way, we call it a threshold, a place where you can come in, meet other Jews, play Pinochle, talk about the deli, find out who's doing a Passover Seder. You can meet friends that have a lot in common with you. We used to do events like Jewish geography night. We'd get hundreds of people that would come. I had people that grew up in South Africa and met somebody that went to their elementary school. Where else in the U.S. can you get that kind of stuff? We had some great things. We're actually going to do it?I'm on the board at Bet Knesset Bamidbar. So they're looking for social activities because people don't always talk to each other at services. So I said, "All right, I'll do a Jewish geography night." So we're reviving it after years, next month. That sounds like fun. It's a wonderful program. But something else you didn't mention?sorry?something else, the value of the JCC, when you have a family who might be Reform and a family who might be Orthodox, their kids are not going to meet each other. But here, they're going to take ballet together or they're going to take swimming together and then they're going to have dinner together because it's five o'clock and no mother wants to go home and start cooking. But that's with a facility. That's part of having the JCC that the people here never kind of got. I had that when my kids were little and it was priceless. That for me was a factor that I thought people didn't realize. But you were working on it since the kids were in kindergarten and now they're out of college. Yes. It's funny because the camp was always real important to me. Jewish camp they say is like the best way to keep kids Jewish. So we started a summer camp, just a day camp. Actually, we did a service for somebody at the funeral home this week. The son of the 7 person who passed was one of my former campers. He said to me, "One of the most important things I've ever done was going to camp." It was just a rinky-dink little four-week summer camp, but it was so impactful. He never belonged to a synagogue. Then it was like an amazing thing to me. I came from Ohio. Everybody who was Jewish went to synagogue and you went to religious school. All the boys, some of the girls, but all the boys had bar mitzvahs. When I was interviewing for camp staff the first year, all these Jewish kids never had been to a Jewish synagogue. They didn't know anything Jewish. They might have gone to a Passover Seder, but they had never gone to temple. They didn't know any Hebrew. They didn't know any Jewish songs. They had nothing other than bagels. It was amazing to me. So a JCC was so much more important because it gives them something more than just the food. That's interesting. I didn't realize that. My youngest was already in high school when we moved here and that wasn't something that was important to her. A new state and these were new friends. Some of the synagogues had youth groups, but BBYO was very small. Still, compared to the number of Jews here, it's still pretty small. So the parents just got involved in other things. Plus, in Vegas you have pretty great community centers and you have athletic clubs and workout places. For that you don't need a JCC. But there's nothing better than camp. Where was camp at? We held it at the old Hebrew Academy before it was changed to Adelson. The school was a small building and for a couple of years we walked to the Trails' pool for swimming. Then we used to bus the kids to a city pool because the Trails wouldn't let us do it anymore. We had mostly activities indoors because it was pretty hot. It was really not what you would expect in a camp. We did art projects. I was a real advocate of bringing in Israeli culture. So we brought in 8 Israeli staff, schlachim. I don't think they do that anymore. But we brought these kids in and families housed them for a couple of weeks at a time. They were in their twenties. Our kids still went to see our schlaheim when they were in Israel. They went out with her. Right. So these are post-army age, like mid-twenties, early twenties. They would do Israeli dancing and Israeli singing and they were really good at scouting activities. Oh, we would make falafel and pita on an open fire, stuff like that which was really fun. So was this just a day camp? Yes, a day camp. How many kids would you have? We started with twenty the first year and I think we got up to about two hundred. Oh, wow. They were from all over the valley? Yes. We actually had a group?like Janet Wellish was one of our key people on the east side. She would develop car pools to get kids to the west side. It was great. We developed scholarships for kids who couldn't afford it. Nobody was turned down because they couldn't afford to go. That's great. It was a great time. We first started first to third grade and then we expanded and it went all the way from preschool to middle school because we started a counselor-in-training program. It was great. The good old days. Yes, we had a lot of fun. But this ties your personal stories together, too, because you said earlier, Wendy, this is where you met. 9 Right. You both are married. No. Well, we're married to each other now. Yes, we are married to each other. But at that time...What brought you to Vegas? WENDY: Well, my ex-husband and I came to Las Vegas because he felt that there was a lot of opportunity here. He had sold the family business. We split as soon as we got here. Fortunately, he didn't want me to go to work. He wanted me to be home when our kids were young. So he moved out to another part of Summerlin and I lived with the girls. I got involved in the community because that's all I knew from Boston. I met Laura at the book fair. They had called me? LAURA: But you were involved. She was on like every board. WENDY: At one point, yes, I was on every Jewish board here. BARBARA: How did you plug in so quickly? You came in '99. LAURA: Only in Vegas can you do this. WENDY: You would have to be third generation, eight-figure income to do (elsewhere) what you can do here in five minutes. The good news is if you have any experience or interest, you can get involved very quickly and easily and make a difference. The unfortunate news is that a lot of the leaders have had no training, which becomes frustrating. It's difficult, but valuable. We all tried to educate each other, tried to explain to people the importance, use examples from other communities. Laura?when I was on the JCC board?did a lot of training; she would bring in the JCC consultants or whatever. But that was part of it. If you knew what to do even in a small way, boards wanted you because they needed people with experience. There were not a lot of 10 people that had a lot of experience here. She had it from Boston before she came here. I had been on a number of boards and I had been involved in a lot of different things when I lived in Boston. So I was able to jump right in. And I wanted to meet people because I had two young girls. I was a single mother now and I wanted to be part of the community. So I jumped in fast. So what was the first thing you got involved in? The first thing I got involved in was the Hebrew Academy because that's where my kids were in school. I got involved on a committee right away. I didn't love it, but it was all there was for me right then. I had gotten a call in Boston, believe it or not, from Lauren Eisenberg, who was running the book fair that year, asking me to get involved, but the timing didn't work. So that was kind of when she said the JCC. I also had loved the JCC when I lived in Massachusetts and was very involved. So when I heard there was no JCC, I was out of my mind. I also had been involved in the death community in Boston. So JFSA, I went there because I felt that that was important as well. They were starting JNF and someone asked me, (the Obers) who we were very close friends with, the Obers begged me to come on that board. So I went on that board for a while. JFSA. Yes, I said JFSA, JCC. I was on JNF. What is JNF? Jewish National Fund. I did go on Women's Division for Federation for a while. The people that I worked with were quite different than the people I had been accustomed to working with. So there was a lot 11 of adjustment for me as well. But I enjoyed it and I tried to go to everything I could. I wasn't as active in Federation, but shortly got more active. I was on that board. What else? I was also involved with Temple Beth Sholom for a while when I was there. It was just fun for me. That was fun for me because it was no pressure and I enjoy socialization very much. Can you tell? My best activity is socialization. Then I jumped into Hadassah because Hadassah had the Hadassah Leadership Academy and what they wanted was women who had been involved in Hadassah, which I had been on the board and involved in Massachusetts. So they wanted me to do the Leadership Academy and that's one of the criteria that they used to infuse Hadassah here again. We've done really well with that, as you've seen. The Hadassah community has really come out strong. Most women remember their mothers or their grandmothers or someone or they knew. So we've done well with Hadassah. That's great. So Laura, how long were you in this position, then, with the JCC here? I think it was eight years. That's a long time. Yes. Actually, it was pretty sad because it's tough to get Jewish professionals to work in Las Vegas. I had a good reputation?I think I still do?as I was employed the longest by any Jewish organization. I think I still have the record, which is pretty sad. Since I left I think they've had four or five execs at the JCC. I went to Temple Beth Sholom after the JCC and I think they went through three in the first two years after I left. It's a tough community for a Jewish professional that comes from another community with certain expectations. But then we started our Kraft-Sussman [Funeral and Cremation Services] in 2009. 2009. Right. 12 So that's seven years next month. So from 1997...? Ninety-seven to 2005, I think. Then Kraft- Sussman...? 2005 to 2008. Then you were at Beth Sholom for four years. Yes, for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Oh, so what did you do at Temple Beth Sholom? I was the executive director. Pieces come together. Then I left there and we said, "What can we do to make a difference?" Actually, Wendy?this is a good part of the story?Wendy? One of the four original women in the Conservative Chevra Kadisha through Midbar Kodesh Temple and Temple Beth Sholom. That's the Jewish burial society. The Orthodox always had one, but we tried?well, we brought one together for the Conservative community. Oh, Laura. I thought that would be nice. That's very nice. So we put that together. Actually, when I arrived in '99, the only temple that had a presence?ironically enough?on the Internet was Beth Sholom and that's how I joined. I knew I had a child who had to be bar mitzvahed in 2000 and I didn't know what I was going to do about that. So I joined Temple Beth Sholom. Then one day I saw a little, tiny blurb that said, "We are looking to start a Chevra Kadisha." Which is a? A Jewish burial society. "Anyone interested, come to a meeting." So I was one of the original 13 members, one of the original women. We had four women from Beth Sholom. Who are the others, may I ask? Alma Brooks, who is Rabbi [Hershel] Brooks' wife?she's deceased?Edie Goldberg and Linda White. So together? It's a great group of women. I love those women still so much. Together we came with Midbar Kodesh Temple. I don't really remember who the original Midbar women were. I know it was Carolyn Cravant. I'm thinking it was Carolyn. Would Amy have been part of it? Amy Fieldman was not part of it for a long time. No? It was probably just Carolyn. Carolyn. I'll have to ask her. Pretty much in the beginning it was our own group. Slowly but surely we were able to educate and bring in?it wasn't easy?but eventually we started to bring in more people. Now we really have a revolving amount of people. For Laura and I, having being in the Chevra Kadisha was incredible not just because it gave Laura an education into the Jewish death and dying world, which she knew a lot of from being involved in the Jewish community, but because it helped her to get to the place where she wanted to be involved in a funeral home with me because I was working for Bunkers [Funeral Home] in those days. Palm [Mortuary] had been working to open King David, and so Bunkers hired me to do a Jewish program. I was actually very successful until I hit the wall and realized that my kids were out of control because you can't have one mother out a hundred hours a week and one in a part-time job that was fifty that was supposed to be twenty. So I was there and it was frustrating. That's how I learned that corporations shouldn't be involved?well, I felt that corporations shouldn't be involved in death and dying. I was frustrated although I had a lot of wonderful experiences. So 14 that was kind of the evolution to Kraft-Sussman in many ways. So you may not know, but most of the funeral homes in town are owned by three big corporations out of Texas and their staff are paid on commission and bonuses based on how much they can sell. When you're coming from a Jewish nonprofit background. It's like, what? When you come from a Jewish background where, as I always joke, we love a good wedding or bar mitzvah, but death is about simplicity and people are supposed to be the same. They would laugh at me because I always received the smallest bonus or I would bring in the least amount of money. And I always would say, "This is the one thing; this is my background; I'll never push anybody for anything." It was very upsetting for me. So that was kind of the way we came to a lot of the things that we do and a lot of our missions because we wanted to make sure that we were doing things in a different way. Chevra Kadisha, though? Yes. So tell the layperson what is the importance of this or what is its goal? Chevra Kadisha performs the Jewish ritual of preparing the deceased for burial. So it's more than?like in the funeral home our staff would bathe somebody and dress them. But when you're part of the Chevra Kadisha and you're doing the Tahara, which is the ritual that Chevra Kadisha does, it's a really beautiful spiritual experience. So there's prayers and psalms that are said and the way the person is cleansed and bathed, there's rituals that have been being used for thousands of years. It's really a sacred space. The place that we do it becomes a really sacred space and the process is a sacred process. If you believe in a soul and caring for the deceased and their soul, it's I think the best thing you can do for them. So does the family participate in this? No. Volunteers do. Well, I should say in the Conservative Chevra, it's volunteers and in most 15 communities it's volunteers. But the Orthodox group here, they get paid for it. Explain how it started, though. The first Tahara, which is what it's called, the preparation, was that Moses buried God with his own hands?actually that God buried Moses with his own hands. That's a little faux pas for people that are going to critique. We'll catch that. Not too important. No. So you believe you're going back to the beginning of time. It's a really wonderful... There is a lot of water that you use in the process. You're born from water and you go back into water. Everybody is dressed in a white shroud. There's no makeup. There's no adorning of the body. It's simple. We used to go into different funeral homes as members of the Chevra Kadisha and we saw how the dignity of the deceased was not as respected as we thought it should be in some places and the families weren't always treated well. Being members of the Chevra Kadisha, we thought, we could do this; we could create a real Jewish funeral home that is mensch-y. With our nonprofit background, I have that mind-set. We don't want to overcharge people. We want to make a living, but we want people to be able to do this. Also, it's been an honor for us because there are times that we'll have a family that the resources are so limited. So Laura and I, if they need to be buried immediately, we were able to do it ourselves. So we don't always have to bring in a Chevra Kadisha, which has actually been very nice for us to have that privilege. Right. We're these two Jewish mothers. So people can't afford it; all right, we'll do it for you. We'll call in favors from the cemetery or do this. Yes, we try very hard. So we have a joke that we're the nonprofit funeral home. 16 I just say, "We're the nonprofit funeral home." Thank God, we aren't. But we've been here?people originally said, "You're not"? "You never could do this." They said, "You'll be gone in six months." Some of our male colleagues around the country are like, "What do you mean two women are doing this?" But locally they were tough, really tough on us. Bu