CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS


How Soon Should The Funeral Take Place?

The ritual that a Jewish funeral and burial take place within 24 hours was born during a time when families resided in the same “shtetl” and travel was not a concern. The “24 hour rule” also addressed the inability to properly maintain the deceased. In today’s society with families spread throughout the world and with modern conveniences, it is not uncommon for the funeral and burial to take place later than 24 hours. However, when making the arrangements for the funeral, care should be taken in honoring the deceased by not intentionally delaying the funeral to a more convenient day.

Preparations For The Funeral And Burial

CHEVRA KADISHA (HOLY SOCIETY)

In Hebrew meaning the group of people who prepare the body for burial. Men prepare men and women prepare women.

TAHARA

The ceremony performed by the Chevra Kadisha of washing the deceased before the burial. This serves as a ritual purification of the deceased.

TACHRICHIM

A hand sewn white linen shroud in which the deceased is dressed. The simplicity of the shroud shows the simplicity in which we should face G-d.

ARON

A casket made entirely of wood with dowels and glue, without any metal used in its construction. Various designs, finishes, and species of wood are used to create these Kosher caskets.

SHOMER

Meaning watcher; a Shomer is a man or woman who sits with the decedent until burial, often reciting Tehilim, or Psalms.

The Funeral Service And Burial

KRIAH

Hebrew word for rending or tearing; a symbol of grief, a tear in the upper corner of the garment or on a symbolic ribbon. The tear is made on the left (closest to the heart) for a parent and on the right for other relatives. At this time, mourners will recite the following blessing: Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet – We praise you, Righteous Judge.

MOURNERS KADDISH

The prayer is only recited with a quorum of ten Jewish people, a Minyan, in memory of the deceased. The prayer never references death, but it reminds the living of G-d’s presence in their lives and in the lives of the community. Click here to view the Mourners Kaddish.

HESPED

The eulogy offered by the Clergy, family, or close friends of the deceased.

EL MALEI RACHAMIM

The Hebrew words for The Memorial Prayer, often recited in Hebrew, and begins with “O compassionate and exalted G-d”.

KEVURAH

The Hebrew word for the actual burial in the ground; comes from the word Kever, meaning grave. Those in attendance will take part in the burial by covering the casket with either a symbolic blanket of earth or completely covering the casket prior to leaving the cemetery. Some traditions exhibited at this time include using the shovel upside down and placing the shovel back into the earth rather than handing it directly to someone else.

SHURA

Those who have attended the burial will stand in two lines facing each other, creating a pathway for the mourners to walk through as they leave the gravesite. This symbolizes their beginning the process of mourning as everyone recites “Hamakom yenakhem etekhem betokh shaar avelay tziyon viyrushalayim - May G-d comfort you among all those in mourn in Zion and Jerusalem”.

ZICHRON(AH) LIVRACHA

May his (her) memory be for a blessing.