Home > Types of Funeral > Jewish Funeral

Jewish Funeral

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 27 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Funeral jewish Funeral mourning

Jewish funerals, like all religious funerals, should be planned and organised with the help of the religious leader - the Rabbi. In general Jewish funerals are solemn occasions, marked by conservative dress, an avoidance of music and flowers, and conservative behaviour. In many Jewish communities a Hevra Kadisha, a holy society which supervises funerals, help to comfort the bereaved as well as make sure that all Jewish laws and customs are followed for Jewish funerals. Though they take place quickly, Jewish funerals require preparation, a service and a mourning period all in accordance with Jewish law and custom.

Upon Death

According to Jewish law, funerals should take place as soon as possible after death. Usually this means that within 24 hours is an optimal time frame. Funerals may be delayed, however, for a variety of reasons including that funerals can not be planned or performed on Shabbat, that the body must be transported and/or that relatives must travel from long distances to attend. In the time prior to burial the deceased's body should not be left alone. A Shomer (guardian) looks after the body at this time and recites Psalms. Generally a Shomer is a relative or friend of the deceased, or a member of the deceased's congregation. The deceased's body must be cleaned and shrouded according to Jewish law, and embalming and the use of cosmetics if prohibited. Autopsies are also prohibited unless legally required, in which case a Rabbi may ask to be present when it is performed.

The Funeral

Jewish funerals are usually simple, respectful services. Most take place in a synagogue, funeral home or graveside. During this service Psalms are chanted, the Eyl Malei Rahamim (memorial prayer) is said and a eulogy honouring and celebrating the deceased is given. Viewing of the body is prohibited during Jewish funerals. The casket is carried to the gravesite by pallbearers who stop seven times while family and friends follow. K'vurah (burial) then takes place and the Kaddish is recited (though there are some variations so discussing this with a Rabbi is encouraged). Jewish people are generally buried in Jewish cemeteries though non-Jewish spouses need a Rabbi's approval to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Rabbis may not officiate at the funerals of Jewish people who will be buried in non-Jewish cemeteries.

Mourning

Parents, spouses, children and siblings of the deceased are obligated to mourn for their loved one according to Jewish law. A seven day intensive mourning period known as Shivah begins on the day of burial. During this time going to work and school is discouraged. During this time it is also customary that mirrors be covered, a memorial candle lit, leather shoes to be avoided and males to stop shaving. After the seventh day, Shloshim is observed for thirty days followed by Shanna for twelve months. On each anniversary of the death, the Kaddish is recited.

Preplanning for a Jewish funeral should be carried out with a Rabbi and is encouraged given that these funerals are meant to occur as quickly as possible after the death. At the time of death, the deceased's religion should be made known to the authorities so that they can issue a death certificate as soon as they are able. Rabbis, Hevra Kadisha and local Jewish communities are excellent resources when planning a Jewish funeral.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Eldest.child
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Hi my mom died in 2009, I moved out of family home when I started my own family and my youngest brother also moved out years ago, my…
    24 May 2017
  • Cat
    Re: The Stages of Grief
    My dad just passed away 3 week ago, I was with him when he died. Everyone asks how I feel and I feel nothing! I thought that sorting funeral…
    23 May 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Jlaura - Your Question:My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still…
    23 May 2017
  • Beez84
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My father recently passed away and he owned a house with his partner not married he payed towards the mortgage each month and paid the deposit…
    22 May 2017
  • Beez84
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Hi My dad has just passed away and he lived with his partner not married and they owned a house but his name was not ok the mortgage but he…
    22 May 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    Seanda - Your Question:My mom died in a very tragic car accident March 20th my husband really dont understand how I feel…
    22 May 2017
  • Jlaura
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still married he is next of…
    22 May 2017
  • Seanda
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    My mom died in a very tragic car accident March 20th my husband really dont understand how i feel instead of trying to…
    21 May 2017
  • Char
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My Grandfather died and he had 1 blood daughter and 2 stepdaughter. My mother died (blood relative daughter) when I was a minor child…
    20 May 2017
  • blackbird
    Re: Bereavement Counselling: What to Expect
    my sister was murdered on oct. 24, 2016. she was 15 months older than I am. her estranged husband shot her in the…
    20 May 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.