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
  • Only son
    Re: Executing a Will
    Dad died leaving me 1/2 house in will. Other 1/2 and &80k to Mum. But solicitor making wills 10 years ago did not change house deeds from joint…
    17 November 2019
  • Tiddles
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    Can my client put a grave stone on her sons grave or even can her grandson do it as it was his dad
    15 November 2019
  • Edy
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    My brother paased away 2 years ago and his live in girlfriend handled the funeral. She never paid for the funeral or the…
    14 November 2019
  • Suzi
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
    My father has only recently passed away. I did get the chance to see him before, but for the last 3…
    9 November 2019
  • Joe Joe
    Re: Dealing With Inheritance Tax
    Hello I am concerned about my uncle who is 91 years old. I need help finding out if my sister who does not live with him and I…
    28 October 2019
  • Gav
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    Hi, I think I need help, since one of my best friends commited suicide 3 years ago, I have lost a further 11 friends and family…
    27 October 2019
  • Mack
    Re: Purchasing a Burial Plot
    My wife bought a cemetery plot,she went to the cemetery last week,and another person had been buried in the plot...is this illegal
    22 October 2019
  • Confused
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My mother who is still alive put my sisters nane on her house. She has said she is giving her the house because my sister has never left the…
    21 October 2019
  • MPS
    Re: Bereavement Payment
    I cremated my son who was 37 I am 58 and I am on sick and my work company dose not pay sick pay can I apply for breavement pay
    21 October 2019
  • Miller
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My father as died leaving me his house and all belongings, thers only me his daughter im an only child, my dad did not make a will so…
    16 October 2019