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
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: Organising a Memorial Service
    Mag jo - Your Question:I am interested in how to legitimise leaving my body to medical science, my postcode is PH2 0JU
    26 April 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: Coping With A Loved One's Terminal Illness
    Gabs - Your Question:My husband Leslie passed on 18 March of esophageal cancer. He as misdignosed originally so…
    26 April 2017
  • Kat
    Re: Assistance With Funeral Costs
    I need some advice ASAP my sister has just lost her daughter and she has no income at all she has no money at all to get her…
    25 April 2017
  • Mag jo
    Re: Organising a Memorial Service
    I am interested in how to legitimise leaving my body to medical science, my postcode is PH2 0JU
    25 April 2017
  • Gabs
    Re: Coping With A Loved One's Terminal Illness
    My husband Leslie passed on 18 March of esophageal cancer. He as misdignosed originally so was givev only 3-5…
    25 April 2017
  • Magjo
    Re: Organising a Memorial Service
    I am interested in donating my organs if harvestable, if not I would like to leave my body to medical sciences. How do I go about…
    24 April 2017
  • Cuzz
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Hi my cousin lived with my auntie for over 10 years, the house and everything was left to my cousin and now auntie has passed, the house is…
    22 April 2017
  • Mau
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
    Hi I lost my son suddenly 12 years ago on holiday abroad he was disabled but was shocked when he…
    22 April 2017
  • Hales
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    Hello. My sister had a still born son 3 years ago who was cremated. She kept his ashes but wants them buried and a grave…
    21 April 2017
  • Buntybo
    Re: Inheriting Property
    I moved into my mother's house 10 years ago to care for her. Her will leaves property to me. Property worth about £195,000. Will I need to get…
    21 April 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.