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Iannotti Funeral


What To Learn When Engaging Jewish Traditions For Funeral

Following Jewish funeral traditions, mourners should never leave the deceased unattended. A Shomer, or "watchcmen", must stay with the deceased from their death until the time of the funeral and burial. The family typically supplies the watchmen and other family and close friends in mourning will stay with the body as well. Upon a death, the family must first call the rabbi, who will proceed with funeral arrangements and set a time for the funeral. Funerals are in the temple or synagoge, although modern Jews often hold graveside services only.

The Jewish custom calls for a closed casket and no viewing of the body because it is disrespectful to look at a person that is unable to look back.

Embalming, a process used for sanitation and temporary preservation, is avoided unless it is required by local law. The sacred society, or the Chevra Kadisha usually take on the role of preparing the body. This is a group of pious Jewish followers who perform the Jewish Taharah, or purification.

The body is first ritually bathed and then dressed in the Tachrichim, or shrouds, the traditional burial garment. It is a simple white garment that contains no pockets. This symbolizes the fact that the deceased takes nothing with them when they depart this world and that God will not judge on material possessions but rather their deeds and merits.

While families choose their own caskets, Jewish tradition calls for unadorned caskets made of wood that contain no metal. The family also decides on funeral details, but there are typically no floral arrangements as this is seen as unnecessary and frivolous.

The actual funeral itself lasts around 20 or 30 minutes and consists of a reading of Psalms, other Scripture readings, and the eulogy. Either before or after the services, mourners perform K'riah, the rendering of the garment. While some mourners will tear their clothes, many people today simply attach a black ribbon to their clothing. As you can see, there are many Jewish funeral traditions that mourners of other faiths do not follow.


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