|Bringing Religious Articles into a Cemetery|
|Burial or Cremation|
|Burying the Body within 24 Hours|
|Clothing for the Deceased|
|Covering the Coffin With Earth|
|Funerals Held During the Day|
|Leaving the Body of the Deceased Unattended|
Bringing Religious Articles into a Cemetery: It is usually not a good idea to bring religious articles into a Jewish Cemetery. Tradition considers it a mockery to the dead who cannot enjoy them.(1)
Burial or Cremation? In Judaism (In most orthodox and many conservative congregations) burial of the body is favored over cremation. For more on this topic one can read Burial Or Cremation by Arno Froese with additional comments added.
Clothing for the Deceased: Today, many Orthodox Jews are buried in simple white shrouds rather than in normal clothing. It is also natural that shoes not be put on their feet.(1)
Covering the Coffin with Earth: Once the coffin is lowered into the ground it is customary for some family members that are present to shovel some earth onto the top of the coffin. One suggestion offered is that this may be connected to an old concept, guarding against the return of the deceased ghost.(1)
Funerals are Usually Held During the Day: It is much more common to see a Jewish funeral take place in the day instead of the night. This is because of a Bible passage found in Deuteronomy 21:23 that says "Thou shalt surely bury him the same day. His body shall not remain all night" Because of this passage some Rabbis have tried to conduct funeral services during daylight hours. This is also one of the reasons (along with embalming generally being forbidden) that it is the custom to bury the body as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.(1)
Leaving the Body of the Deceased Unattended: The deceased body should never be left unattended if possible. It is a sign of disrespect. Until burial, someone should always be with the body. Some Jewish communities have a committee set up with people on it just for this occasions. Sitting with the body is considered a "good deed."(1)
U.S. Flag: As part of the ceremony before the coffin is lowered into the ground it is a common practice to honor a veteran by allowing the coffin to appear with a U.S. flag draped over it.
When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.(2)
Read this for a Religious Based Flag Folding Ceremony.
Those involved in any way with the arrangements of dealing with the dead and/or the surviving family should do so with the utmost respect and sensitivity. Some of the traditions presented here are done so to help. JewishRoots.Net understands that this is a sensitive issue and not everyone, regardless of their religious background handles things in the same way. Please do not be offended if your personal view is different than those of the contributing authors on this page.
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1). Midwest Messianic Center Newsletters including but not limited to 11/2004, 10/2007.