jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish funeral, burial and mourning

according to Jewish tradition and customs


This concise guide is for those who are interested in a logically organized, condensed, but not oversimplified information about proper Jewish funeral and burial. Far from being superficial, though, it will trace the reasons for various Jewish burial and mourning traditions back to the biblical and rabbinical sources, quoting the Hebrew language originals. Typical situations are covered quite thoroughly, while special cases will eventually be covered in appendices.

Jewish Funeral Guide covers Jewish attitude to death, Jewish funeral rituals, observance of the Shivah / שבעה — the seven day period of mourning, as well as observance of the 30-day and 12-month mourning periods that follow the Shiva, visiting Jewish cemeteries, Mourner's Kaddish / קדיש יתום, the Yahrzeit / יארצייט — anniversary of death, Yizkor / יזכור prayers, etc.

The Jewish Funerals Guide is compiled from a variety of on-line and printed sources. For further reading please check “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, “Death and Bereavement” by Rabbi Abner Weiss, “Mourning in Halachah” by Rabbi Chaim Binyamin Goldberg and, of course, many Hebrew language books on the subject, including the classic “Maavar Yabok” by Rabbi Aharon Berachyah of Modena and “Gesher HaChayim” by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucatzinsky.

In this guide the letters of Hebrew alphabet are used sometimes as numerals, according to traditional Gematria rules, which establish correspondence between Hebrew letters and numbers. Hebrew is transliterated according to contemporary Hebrew pronunciation, which is familiar to both Ashkenazim and Sephardim.

It is expected that the reader has some familiarity with Jewish tradition and the Hebrew language. Consequently, the guide does not elaborate on the basic concepts to spare those familiar with them from unnecessary explanations. However, should some readers require clarification of a term, they can simply click on the underlined words and Hebrew passages; a relevant explanation page will then open. (Hold the Shift or Ctrl + Shift key while clicking to open it in a new window or a new browser tab).

When tragedy strikes, some complex questions may arise. It is, therefore, advisable to contact your synagogue, your local Chevra Kadisha / חברה קדישא — burial society and/or a kosher Jewish funeral home, traditional Jewish mortuary or Jewish funeral director, who will refer you to a competent rabbinic authority for individual help.