Jewish Funeral

Traditions for Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews are different. But in all, attention is given to the grieving family, who stay home in mourning for a set period of days (Shiva).

Male guests attending a service are expected to wear a jacket and tie with a yarmulke. Women dress conservatively, but are not expected to wear a head covering.

In the Orthodox and Conservative congregations, funerals take place one or two days after death. A holy society cleans and bathes the body, dressing it in white linen. Burial is in a wooden casket with no metal (including no metal handles or nails). Flowers are normally not sent to keep the funeral as simple as possible.

At the funeral, an article of clothing will be torn by the immediate family (called Keria). At the burial, guests will ritually wash their hands as they leave the cemetery. The Shiva begins immediately after the burial and continues for seven days. Friends and family bring food; the immediate family, for the most part, stays at home for the seven days, avoiding work and taking telephone calls. Every evening, close friends visit and sit with the family.

Reform Jews will have a service in a funeral home or temple; often, the rabbi will stop by during Shiva to lead a minyan in the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer for mourning.

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