Every culture has traditional funeral and burial practices. While it’s never easy to lose a loved one, these traditions provide a safe place to mourn and celebrate the life that has passed. Jewish burial traditions are no different. If you’ve never attended a funeral of this type before, you may be unsure of what happens during one. To provide some insight, the caring and compassionate professionals at Hebrew Free Burial Association in New York City explain what you can expect below.
5 Aspects of a Traditional Jewish Burial
In the Jewish tradition, burials take place as quickly as possible, often within 24 hours of the deceased’s passing. This practice of quick burial is emphasized out of respect for the dead and because it is encouraged in the Torah. However, funerals cannot take place on the Sabbath (from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday) and on most Jewish holidays.
A Jewish funeral can place at a synagogue or funeral home, and then move to the grave site. During the funeral service, scripture is read, prayers are said, and a eulogy is given. At the grave site, more prayers are said before the coffin is lowered into the grave.
Out of respect for the dead, caskets at Jewish burial services are kept closed. Additionally, all men, even those who are not of Jewish heritage, are expected to cover their heads as a sign of piety or respect for the mourners.
At the grave site, mourners can take part in tossing a handful or shovelful of earth onto the casket as a way for the individual to bid farewell to the loved one. This is a solemn part of a Jewish burial and the shovel, instead of being handed to the next person in line, is returned to the pile of earth, where the next person will retrieve it. Additionally, flowers are not usually permitted at Jewish funerals, as they represent life.
Finally, the mourners will form two parallel lines for the immediate family to pass through and receive comforting words. Everyone usually washes their hands with water when leaving the cemetery as a symbol of leaving the place of the dead and returning to life. After a mourning period of up to a year, the tombstone is placed at the gravesite in another, smaller ceremony.
For those Jewish families who struggle financially, the Hebrew Free Burial Association will help when one of your loved ones passes away. Located in New York City and serving the tri-state area, this Jewish non-profit arranges funerals and burials and provides comfort during your time of need. This charitable organization will help ease the stress of the situation and become a community around you. Give them a call today at (212) 239-1662 to speak with a caring team member about a Jewish burial, and visit their website to make a donation.