Protest Slams Washington Jewish Funeral Home Merger — Fear Higher Costs

D.C. Rally Denounces Competition-Killing $1.4B Deal

ron sachs

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Standing in front of an empty coffin carrying signs reading “I can’t afford to die,” leaders of the Washington D.C. Jewish community staged a protest outside the offices of the Federal Trade Commission urging it to block expected rate hikes following a planned merger of two funeral conglomerates.

“Our point of concern is that the merger between the first and second largest funeral companies will leave Jews in the Washington area with no inexpensive burial option,” said Ron Halber, director of the Greater Washington Jewish Community Relations Committee.

At issue is the planned $1.4 billion acquisition of Steward Enterprise, the nation’s second largest funeral services provider, by Service Corporation International (SCI) who has the largest market share. If the merger goes through, SCI will control all of the Washington area Jewish funeral services, thus, activists fear, having the ability to raise prices for Jewish burial.

The greatest impact would be on the Hines-Rinaldi non-sectarian funeral home in Silver Spring which is now owned by Steward. The home had been offering for years a low cost Jewish funeral option for less than $2000, based on a contract it signed with the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington.

It also allowed Jewish families to wait until the end of the 30 days of mourning before making payments. Cost of Jewish burial at other funeral homes is around $5,000.

Under the merger agreement SCI agreed to keep the lower price option for a year, but to set prices by market value after that. Washington area activists, supported by local lawmakers, are now calling on the FTC to listen to the concerns of the community and to exempt Hines-Rinaldi from the merger.

“Why can’t there be one funeral home that is not owned by SCI?” asked Halber. “Where are the consumer’s rights?”

The FTC met with members of the Jewish community last month and has yet to make a decision regarding their request. The Hines-Rinaldi funeral home performs around 230 Jewish funerals a year.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.