Jewish Funeral Traditions

Jewish Funerals

Jewish funerals are religious in nature and adhere to a myriad of rituals and traditions based on the Jewish holy book, the Torah. There are four branches of Judaism known as Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and Reconstructionist.

Just as there are different religious practices between the communities and practices of the faith, so too do funeral traditions differ between them. Judaism, in essence, teaches believers to embrace life while accepting death is coming. However, there is no specific afterlife taught about in the belief system and although it is believed the soul is immortal, there is belief in a world to come where the dead will be resurrected rather than find a place in heaven or hell. It is believed that leading a good life helps the soul after death.

Jewish Traditions and Funeral Arrangements

Jewish religious law dictates how to prepare and handle the body of the deceased. Burial and the choice of cremation vary between Judaism practices with Orthodox and Conservative Jews prohibiting the latter as it is believed the body should be buried intact for resurrection, however, reform Jewish practices accept cremation. Additionally, organ donation is often accepted as it can save lives but it can vary between communities.

The body is washed, known as Tahara, before being wrapped in a plain burial shroud. The process is supervised by Jewish men and women called Chevra Kadisha. They will also remain with the body until burial to protect it and ensure preparation is according to tradition. There is also no viewing of the deceased. 

The funeral often occurs within 24 hours of death in respect to the deceased with the service in a synagogue, funeral home, or by the graveside. Burial is in a simple biodegradable casket made of wood or pine while the Mourner’s Kaddish (a memorial prayer) is recited. Following the burial family members usually host mourners at the synagogue or at home. A candle is also lit and left to burn for a week.

Mourning Period

The seven days after a funeral is known as ‘Shiva’ when the remaining family stay at home to receive guests and reflect on the loss. During Shiva, mirrors are covered, family members don’t personally groom and couples refrain from intimacy to symbolize death’s disruption to life with demonstrable grief through these elements of self-sacrifice. 

The second mourning period ‘Shloshin’, follows and lasts for thirty days with the entire period of mourning lasting up to a year. During the thirty days, family members return to daily life and routines but will still perform mourning traditions. On the one year anniversary, a candle will be lit and burned for 24 hours in a tradition known as Yahrzeit.

Select a Jewish Funeral with County Funerals

When choosing a Jewish Funeral with County Funerals you will have peace of mind that we will handle all arrangements with dignity and respect. We can support a variety of traditions to ensure your loved one receives a proper farewell. For more information on how we can help, reach out to our team of experienced funeral directors.

Google Rating
5.0
Based on 56 reviews