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Funeral Rituals

The Funeral Service

The traditional Jewish funeral service is a relatively simple but emotionally powerful tribute to the deceased. The service is directed toward honoring the departed through heartfelt eulogies, speaking only well of him or her, the chanting of several Psalms and Memorial Prayers, accompanying the deceased to their final resting place, and assisting in their final interment. As Rabbi Maurice Lamm notes,

“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.”

The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning

The Mourning Period

Various customs and prayers guide the mourners in channeling their emotions toward the beginning of their bereavement process. The mourning period begins immediately after the burial service when the family receives their first blessings of condolences. 

Before the actual funeral ceremony, various preparations should be made by the mourners or their support circle. Read more about mourning rituals here.

Ematai is pleased to provide two helpful resources in preparing for a traditional Jewish funeral:

  • The first, taken from Rabbi Gavriel Goldman’s From This World to the Next: A Handbook for Mourners (Maggid, 2021), offers a helpful guide toward the arrangements that need to be made before the funeral. 
  • The second, taken from Rabbi David Brofsky’s Hilkhot Avelut: Understanding the Laws of Mourning (Maggid, 2018), provides an in-depth explanation of various burial customs.

Both of these books are highly recommended and may be purchased on the Koren / Maggid website. We thank our friends at Koren for permission to share this material.