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 Funeral Customs

jewish funeral rituals jewish funeral traditions jewish funeral customsJewish funeral customs vary widely, depending upon the movement to which the family belongs–Orthodox, Reform or Conservative. With that said, certainly a Jewish funeral can be very different from what is often expected by guests who are not of the faith; as there may be no music or funeral flowers surround the casket.



A Short List Of The Major Jewish Funeral Customs and Prohibitions Include:

  • The body is watched by a Shomer, from the time of death until the burial.
  • The body is washed and cared for by members of the Chevra Kadisha.
  • The deceased is wrapped in a simple linen or muslin shroud, called a tachrichim, and buried in a wooden coffin built without the use of any metal.
  • Before the funeral begins, Orthodox Jewish custom asks that the mourner tear their clothing, while those of other denominations will wear a ribbon that may or may not be symbolically cut by the Rabbi.
  • No wake or viewing of the deceased will occur.
  • The intention is that the body be allowed to return to the Earth quickly, so every effort is made to ensure that happens, which may involve the drilling of small holes in the bottom of the casket.
  • A pall, or specially-prepared cloth, may cover the casket.
  • The service will commonly begin with the reading or chanting of psalms and prayers.
  • A Hesped, or eulogy, will be delivered.

Rabbi Maurice Lamm, author of The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, wrote, "The Jewish jewish funeral rituals jewish funeral traditions jewish funeral customs funeral service is a starkly simple, but emotionally meaningful, farewell to the deceased." He then goes on to say, "In order to render the proper homage to the deceased, tradition serves as a wise and able instructor. The cumulative wisdom of the Jewish people's experience with grief for over 3,000 years is distilled in the laws and customs pertaining to this area of life." And as is common among human beings, collective wisdom relating to the care of the deceased (and the family he or she leaves behind) can be distilled into a wide spectrum of Jewish funeral rituals behaviors. There really is no one "right way" to do things; the guidelines of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements shape Jewish funerals differently. Couple those differences with the unique qualities of every family and there's plenty of room for variation in Jewish funeral ceremonies. We also offer additional information on Jewish mourning customs on our mourning page.

Let Us Help with Jewish Funeral Traditions 


With over three thousand years of Jewish history–and the often very subtle differences between the traditions of the Conservative, Reform and Orthodox movements–it can certainly be a challenge to understand everything about Jewish funeral customs. If we can be of assistance in understanding your role at the Jewish funeral, do not hesitate to call us at (718) 377-7300.


United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, "Guide to Jewish Funeral Practice," 2013.

Black, Joe, "What to Expect at a Jewish Funeral," Reform Judaism, accessed 2014.  

Lamm, Maurice, "The Jewish Funeral," Chabad, accessed 2014.

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