Attending a traditional Jewish funeral service is a true honor, and it’s important to be knowledgeable about the customs that you will encounter and be a part of. Here is some helpful information about what you can expect when you attend a Jewish funeral service.
Dress Appropriately When Visiting the Funeral Home
Women traditionally wear long skirts and a modest top, or a long dress. Men wear a dress shirt and slacks, or a suit, and should cover their heads. The funeral home may provide kippahs for guests to use as head coverings during the funeral service. Children of the deceased may wear torn pieces of clothing from garments of immediate family members.
Be Familiar With What Happens During the Funeral Service
Rather than talking amongst themselves, mourners may recite psalms while waiting for the funeral service to begin. At traditional Jewish funeral services, the casket remains closed. The funeral service may begin with the hesped, or eulogy, followed by brief prayers.
Accompany the Family to the Cemetery for the Burial Service
After the funeral service, it’s customary for mourners to accompany the casket for the first six feet of its journey. The burial service is held at the burial plot, where mourners take turns shoveling dirt onto the casket. The shovel isn’t passed from person to person; rather, it’s stuck in the dirt, where the next mourner can retrieve it. Mourners recite prayers, including a mitzvah for the bereaved. The immediate family leaves the cemetery and returns home to sit shivah for six days. It’s appropriate to visit the family in their home, or send condolences during this time.
At Chapel of the Chimes Hayward, our knowledgeable and compassionate staff has experience planning funerals near Hayward for families of many different religions and cultures. We are respectful of the diverse needs of our community, and will do everything we can to accommodate their funeral service and burial service requirements. For more information about how we can help you plan a funeral or memorial, call us today at (510) 398-6922.
Many religious and cultural groups follow specific funeral rites. Jewish funerals in particular often adhere to defined traditions that are passed on from one generation to the next. With the right funeral home in Hayward, Jewish families can have peace of mind that their wishes for the deceased are precisely followed.
Preparing the Body
A funeral home typically provides body cleansing and embalming services for passed loved ones. However, within the Jewish tradition, the deceased is not to be embalmed at all. Normal custom dictates that the body receives only an external cleansing by those of the same gender. Once this process is complete, the deceased is clothed in plain white garments in preparation for the funeral service.
Burying the Deceased
Time plays a critical role in Jewish funerals. Unless extenuating circumstances present, the funeral service should take place as soon as possible after a loved one’s death. For this reason, Jewish families may want to consider pre-planning funerals so that no delays occur once a family member passes away. Generally, Jewish tradition favors casket burial over cremation, so the purchase of a burial site ahead of time may likewise facilitate funeral and cemetery services once they become necessary.
Mourning the Loss
As with other types of funerals, Jewish funerals provide family members, friends, and other loved ones the chance to commemorate the life of the deceased. During this time, it should be kept in mind that someone from the family must look over the body of the passed loved one until the cemetery service is over. Otherwise, all those in attendance at the funeral can gather together to mourn their loss. Family members may even ceremoniously rip their attire to show their grief. After the funeral, the traditional mourning period continues for several more days.
Chapel of the Chimes offers thoughtful and detailed funeral services that honor the religious and cultural traditions of those who use our funeral home, and we gladly welcome those with specific funeral or burial needs. Call (510) 471-3362 for more information on our many customizable funeral and cemetery services.