The Jewish funerary process honors the recently deceased through customs and traditions that have been in place for thousands of years. If you’ve never been to a Jewish funeral before, you might wonder what to expect when you get there. Today, we’ll help you understand the Jewish funerary process.
The funeral will likely begin at a synagogue or funeral home, and then move to the gravesite for the burial. Make sure to dress appropriately: women should dress modestly, and cover their shoulders, notes Chabad.org. Men should cover their heads, and often there will be a basket of kippahs to place on your head at the entrance to the funeral home.
The casket will likely remain closed, and the family of the deceased may be wearing a torn garment, like a collar, that they have ripped as a sign of mourning.
At the service, the eulogy will come first, during which friends and family may share stories about the deceased. Then, there will be some short prayers, and the congregation will move to the burial place.
The casket will be carried to the grave and lowered in, and friends and family may take turns turning a shovelful of dirt into the grave once the casket is lowered. Note that it’s not considered proper to pass the shovel, so just place it back in the dirt when you’re finished. You don’t have to participate, but it’s considered a great honor.
After this part, the family of the deceased will line up to be greeted by the people in attendance. At the end of the burial services, it’s customary to wash your hands by pouring water on each hand – right and then left – three times. There may be a faucet and a cup on your way out of the burial area.
If you have more questions about what to expect at a Jewish funeral service, or if a loved one has recently passed away and you’re looking for someone to help you plan the services, contact Rabbi Richard Polirer. He is available to provide services for you and your loved ones in South Florida during your time of need. Learn more by giving him a call at 954-234-4153.