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
  • Tree
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My brother & sister never had time for my mum & dad & havnt spoke to me for 2 years since my dad died . . & theyve took legal action to evict…
    25 February 2021
  • Antonio
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I just lost my grandma today. I don't know how to cope. I lost my grandpa, her husband, on May 20th 2020. I grieved for my grandpa…
    7 February 2021
  • There is a God
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I lost my brother at 22, he was 27. Hung with his own belt. Grandma died the following year. Then uncle and aunt the following…
    1 February 2021
  • Aaron14
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    I have a credit card that went to collections. I paid it off over time in full even after they offered me to pay at lower amount –…
    27 January 2021
  • Brookes
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My brother died. My niece is his next of kin. He lived with his girlfriend and she won’t let my niece have any of my brothers…
    24 January 2021
  • Bailey
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I’m so sad right now! I lost my dad on Boxing Day to Covid. He was all I had left. I lost my sister to cancer in 2014 , then my…
    16 January 2021
  • Jools
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    My son took his own life in April 2020 his wife and him were separated but due to covid19 they had to stay in same house he…
    10 January 2021
  • Mom
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I lost both my sons in 2020. They were 30 and 33 yrs old. I am lost and cant move on. Josh was shot in the head. They say suicide I…
    6 January 2021
  • xzhdx
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Hi, Basically my nan passed away when I was about 8 years old I'm not 20 my grandad passed away roughly about 4 years ago. He met a…
    15 December 2020
  • CEB
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My mum passed away last year, my dad was struggling really bad so myself and my family moved in with him (5 of us) he is now really unwell.…
    6 December 2020