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Laws and Customs
Laws and Customs Governing a Jewish Funeral
TAHARA – is the ritual of purification of the deceased. It is the cleansing and final preparations of the body for burial.
TACH-RI-CHIM- (Burial shrouds) – In death there is no distinction between rich and poor. The deceased should be clothed in traditional white linen. In addition, a man is to be dressed in his own Talit and a Yarmulke (or Kippah). If necessary these items can be obtained from the funeral director.
ARON – (Coffin) A traditional Jewish Funeral requires a simple pine coffin. Expensive, ostentatious caskets conflict with the simplicity, dignity, and equality taught by Judaism. Our Center will provide, if requested an appropriate cloth covering for the casket. If the deceased is a veteran, the casket may be draped with the American flag.
Pre-funeral chapel viewing of the body by the public is absolutely contrary to Jewish law. It is a foreign and should not be practiced. There should be no viewing of the remains by the public. The casket should be closed at all times. The ultimate privacy of death should not be invaded.
SHOMRIM (Guardians) should remain with the deceased until the burial. Relatives or friends or any other persons may volunteer to stay with the deceased. The funeral chapel can also provide a Shomer upon request. It is a Mitzvah, a religious observance to sit with deceased and to read portions from the Book of Psalms.
FLOWERS – are not in keeping with Ashkenazic Jewish traditions, but are often present at funerals among Mizrachi (Eastern) Jews. In lieu of flowers, the family and friends should be encouraged to contribute to worthy Jewish causes and charities in memory of the deceased.
K’RI’AH – Rending the garment. Kri’ah is the cutting or rending of the garment worn by the mourner. This rite is performed before the funeral service. This act is a traditional expression of grief and loss that is felt when a loved one dies. (Funeral chapels provide black ribbons as a substitute.)