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Jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish law and tradition have endowed the funeral with profound religious significance.

A Jewish funeral should in every respect express the dignity, sanctity and modesty of a solemn religious service.

The following guide lists the basic requirements of a Jewish funeral:

  • Any ostentation should be avoided, i.e., family and visitors should reflect in dress and behavior the solemnity of the occasion.  Flowers and music have no place at the Jewish funeral service.
  • Embalming and viewing are contrary to Jewish Law.
  • Cremation or above-ground burial is contrary to Jewish law.
  • Interment should not be unduly delayed.

Jewish Law Requires the Following:

Taharah / Purification

The ritual washing and purification of the deceased by members of the Chevra Kadisha, "The Sacred Society," or, in its absence, by religiously and physically competent Jewish persons.

Shmeerah /Watching

The watching over the deceased by a pious Jewish person.  The deceased should not be left unattended until interment is completed.

Tachrichim /Burial Garments

The traditional white burial shrouds symbolizing that all are equal before their Creator.

Oron /Casket

The wooden casket, in keeping with the Biblical teaching, "dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return."

K'Reeah / Tearing of Garments

The rending of the mourners' outer garments, a symbol of their anguish and grief.

K'Vurah / Burial

The actual burial in the ground; filling in the grave with earth until a mound is formed.  To participate in filling the grave is a religious privilege and duty.  Kaddish cannot be recited at the open graveside.


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