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
  • Marie
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    My mother died 4months ago, after having terrible experiences with the funeral director l decided to take him to court but…
    17 May 2019
  • Nicola
    Re: Executing a Will
    My dad died 20year ago he was a peophile but had a property and calletorl which I am his only child should be intiled to he died in 1999 but…
    16 May 2019
  • Jen
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My father owns 4/5 of his house and his brother owns 1/5 of the same house. The house was originally my grandmother's house and when she died,…
    14 May 2019
  • Jen
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My father owns 4/5 of his house and his brother owns 1/5 of the same house. The house was originally my grandmother's house and when she died,…
    14 May 2019
  • Granny
    Re: The Stages of Grief
    Over the last 4 years I have lost both parents ,cousin recently great nephew and sister in law.i supported my family but did not grieve myself…
    14 May 2019
  • andy
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    my dad passed away leaving no will, he did give spoken instructions on a few things he wanted doing, now after the funeral his widow…
    12 May 2019
  • Godhelpme
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    Mum schizophrenia from my birth resulting in my having PTSD, OCD. No father. Lost nephew 2014 alcohol, Lost sister alcohol 4/11/18,…
    11 May 2019
  • ASL
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    On May 3rd 2018 my husband was admitted to hospital with pulmonary emholi. A CT scan showed that there was 'something…
    10 May 2019
  • Staceyy
    Re: Bereavement Payment
    My partner is a only child he has been caring for him for last 4 years since his mam passed away he been claiming carers he had a bereavement…
    9 May 2019
  • R. B
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I lost my mom in May, and my dad in July. They were married over 60 years. I never grieved due to my family and foolishness. A lot…
    9 May 2019