Jewish Funeral Traditions
The Process of a Jewish Funeral
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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:
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.
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.
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.