For more than four decades, members of Howard County’s Jewish community had to travel upward of 20 miles to make funeral arrangements for loved ones. Next week, that will change.
Pikesville-based Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. Funeral Home will open a new office in the heart of Columbia on June 15. In addition to marking the first time the family-owned funeral home has operated out of more than one office, it will also be the only Jewish funeral home in Howard County.
“The Jewish community is looking forward to Sol Levinson’s presence in Howard County,” said Michelle Ostroff, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County. “Having the Levinson family recognize the need for an office in Columbia further underscores our growing community and its needs.”
The new office, at 5560 Sterrett Place, Suite 204, across from the Mall in Columbia, will offer Howard County residents access to a bereavement library with books on topics ranging from mourning to Jewish customs, space for bereavement support groups and chances to meet personally with one of Levinson’s eight funeral directors who can assist in pre-planning or the making of funeral arrangements. Clients can stop by the office to go over cemetery options, write a death notice and pick a rabbi to lead a service, among other details.
Although the funeral home has been working closely with Howard County residents for years, Matt Levinson, general manager at Sol Levinson & Bros., said the addition of the Columbia office “will address the lack of a physical presence” in the area. He estimates that between 15 and 20 percent of the company’s clients reside in Howard County.
While arrangements can be made through Levinson’s office in Columbia, the funeral home does not have plans to build a chapel for services at the new location. Services arranged through Levinson may be conducted at interfaith centers, meeting houses, synagogues, cemeteries or one of Levinson’s two chapels at its Pikesville location.
As a family-owned business, Sol Levinson & Bros. is one of the few independently owned Jewish funeral homes in the region. The Federal Trade Commission intervened in 2013 when a merger between the nation’s two largest funeral home companies threatened a monopoly on Jewish funeral home competition in Washington, D.C. In Baltimore, Levinson’s has operated as the go-to resource for Jewish community members looking for help when a loved one passes. November 4, 1993 was even declared “Levinson Family Day” by Gov. William Donald Shaefer.
The Levinson family opened their first Jewish funeral home in 1892 on High Street in Baltimore. For three generations, Levinson’s funeral home has served the Jewish community of Baltimore. In addition to assistance in funeral planning, Levinson’s also hosts an annual Howard County Lecture Series, which features presentations from local and national experts in the field of death and mourning.