A Jewish burial society in Australia has begun trialling live web streaming of funerals over the Internet.
Melbourne Chevra Kadisha installed a camera at the prayer houses of the two main cemeteries in Melbourne, according to a report in Friday's Australian Jewish News.
The web streaming costs about $AU250, according to Chevra Kadisha director Fred Grossman. DVD copies of the service are also now available.
Mr Grossman said the service was proving popular, largely because so many Jews in Australia have family members dispersed across the diaspora and, since Jewish law requires immediate burial, many family members cannot attend the service.
Internet chat sites were abuzz this week, mostly welcoming the news.
‘It can make sense when people are not otherwise welcome’
"I think it's great for the relatives who live out of state/country to attend the funeral without having to pay huge travel fees and take tons of days off work," said one blogger.
Another supporter wrote: "Funerals are about community gathering, remembering and supporting. As an unintrusive and non-participatory way to observe it can make sense when relationships are broken or people are not otherwise welcome."
Some American Jewish funeral houses, such as Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York, have offered webcasts for some time.
On January 11, more than 7,000 people watched live streaming of the funeral of Jewish folk singer and composer Debbie Friedman in California, the New York Times reported.