Elaine Alter
D: 2018-08-09
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Alter, Elaine
Esther Fraser
D: 2018-08-08
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Fraser, Esther
Celia Goldsmith
D: 2018-08-02
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Goldsmith, Celia
Norman Norvat
D: 2018-07-30
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Norvat, Norman
David Hopard
D: 2018-07-28
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Hopard, David
Sabina Zaidman
D: 2018-07-26
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Zaidman, Sabina
Lynn Goldstein
D: 2018-07-21
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Goldstein, Lynn
Milton Pedowitz
D: 2018-07-08
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Pedowitz, Milton
Suzanne Nires
D: 2018-07-06
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Nires, Suzanne
Evelyn Pedowitz
D: 2018-07-06
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Pedowitz, Evelyn
Stanley Zaglin
D: 2018-06-28
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Zaglin, Stanley
Steven Jacobson
D: 2018-06-28
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Jacobson, Steven
Edith Landes
D: 2018-06-25
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Landes, Edith
Betty Wilson
D: 2018-06-25
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Wilson, Betty
Shirely Beheshti
D: 2018-06-19
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Beheshti, Shirely
Lily Imparato
D: 2018-06-19
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Imparato, Lily
Edith Colin
D: 2018-06-18
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Colin, Edith
Elliott Brody
D: 2018-06-18
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Brody, Elliott
Sara Benson
D: 2018-06-17
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Benson, Sara
Pearl Bromberg
D: 2018-06-12
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Bromberg, Pearl
Seymour Zaglin
D: 2018-06-11
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Zaglin, Seymour


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Jewish Burial Customs

As we've said elsewhere, according to traditional Jewish burial customs, interment should take place as soon as possible; preferably within 24 hours after the death. However, there are always exceptions. Perhaps the burial must be delayed because close relatives need ample travel time; or the death occurred on Shabbat or another holy day in the Hebrew calendar.

The custom is to wash and clothe the deceased in a simple linen or muslin shroud, then place the body in a plain wooden casket. At that time, a small bit of Israeli Earth, called eretz Yisroael, will be placed under the head or sprinkled over the face of the deceased. Once the Jewish funeral ceremony is over, a procession to the place of interment will occur. If you plan to attend this portion of the Jewish funeral service, you will need to know the following things:

  • When you arrive at the cemetery, you will (again) not want to greet the mourners. They will take their seats, and guests will stand behind them. Again, you will wish to participate in the service only as much as you are comfortable.
  • Once the casket is lowered into the grave, it is time for you to follow the family in picking up a handful of dirt and placing it into the grave. You may notice that others do this three times; if this is the case, follow their lead. If a shovel is provided, do not hand it to the next person: just place it back into the pile of dirt.
  • At the close of the interment, join the other guests in forming two rows. In this way the guests create a sheltered walkway for the passage of the mourners.
  • As they walk by, the traditional words of consolation may be offered. Tradition dictates that it be said in Hebrew, but if you feel you may mispronounce the words, Hamakom y'nachem etchem b'toch sh'ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim, you can speak them in English: "May the Almighty comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." Do not approach the mourners; simply recite the words as they pass.  (However, if they approach you, it is acceptable to respond with a gentle hug and kind, comforting words).
  • Take your leave of the cemetery according to tradition. While it is customary that all the women should leave first, followed by the men; you may find less formal structure in a recession from the graveside.

Wash your hands after leaving the cemetery. You may find that preparations have been made for you to do so while there; certainly there will be washing accommodations provided at the Shiva home, or you should do it at your own home upon arrival. Here is how it's done: Take a cup of water in your left hand and pour it over the entire right hand–all the way to the wrist. Then, take the cup in your right hand, and pour it over your left hand in exactly the same way. Repeat two times. Place the cup upside down, and do not dry your hands. This is symbolic of the lingering memory of the deceased.

Do You Still Have Questions about Jewish Burial Traditions?

Then it's time to pick up the phone and call us. Everyone at Sherman's Flatbush Memorial Chapel, Inc. has the experience to provide you with the answers you are looking for. Simply call (718) 377-7300 to reach one of our funeral professionals.

Online Sources:

Goldstein, Zalman, "After the Burial," Chabad, accessed 2014.

Klug, Alcalay Lisa, "Jewish Funeral Customs: Saying Goodbye to a Loved One," The Jewish Federations of North America, accessed 2014.

Wolfson, Ron, "Going to a Jewish Funeral," My Jewish Learning, accessed 2014.