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Jewish Funeral

Mourning a death in Judaism is taken very seriously. The mourning process is called Avelut in Hebrew (pronounced ah-vay-loot). The individuals closest to the deceased mourn in a process called Shiva lasting Seven days (derived from the number 7 in Hebrew: Sheva). They mourn preferably in the home of the person who passed. The individuals who are the primary mourners are the children, spouse, parent, and sibling.

Upon hearing that the person has passed, a blessing is said:

ברוך אתה דין האמת
“Blessed are You, the Judge of Truth [alt., the Just Judge].”

It is customary for the primary mourners to tear their clothing (process called Keriah) symbolizing the loss they feel.As we can see about Ya’akov who tore his clothes when he heard that Yosef passed away. If one lost a parent, the tear should be on the left side over the heart. If one lost a child, sibling or spouse, the tear is on the right side. Some speculate the differentiating sides because a person can never physically replace his or her parents while one can have more children etc. The clothing that was torn must never be repaired if it was to mourn a parent but may be mended otherwise.

By Jewish law, deceased are to be buried as soon as possible. Burial usually takes place within 72 hours. Volunteers (called Chevre Kadisha) usually work in the process of overseeing the deceased body is respected and prepared properly for burial. Cremation and embalmment are prohibited. The body is meant to decompose naturally. The Jewish burial process is one that is intended to clean and ready the body with the utmost respect.

First, the bare body is covered with a sheet.
Second, the body is uncovered and washed well. Any dirt, makeup and bodily fluid is removed. If there is any bleeding, it is stopped and blood is buried along with the body. All jewelry is removed.
Third, the body is immersed in a mikveh or doused with water (32 liters).
Fourth, the body is dried.
Fifth, the body is dressed in robe-like burial clothing called Tachrichim.
Sixth, if a casket (Aron) is used (a casket is only used if required by local law; in Israel the body is wrapped in a tall it and placed directly in the ground), it must only be comprised of wood (no metal screws, nails etc) and a winding sheet called a Sorev is placed inside the casket. If the deceased wore a Tallit (prayer shawl) in his life then one is placed inside the casket. One of the Tzitzit (tassels on the shawl representing the 613 commandments of G-d) is removed to signify that the person is absolved of fulfilling Mitzvot (commandments).
Seventh, soil from Israel is sprinkled in the casket and over the body if possible.
Last, the casket is closed.

The Chevra Kadisha ask for forgiveness in and oversight in the preparation of the body.

There is no open casket or viewing in Judaism. Funeral service is usually brief and consists of psalms (prayer is song), a eulogy (Hesped in Hebrew), and concludes with a prayer El Moley Rachamim. Those accompanying the body are called Levayah.

The eulogy is intended for the deceased and for the mourning. It is meant to state the good deeds the individual and also to make those present cry. Eulogies may not take place on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (the first of the month, the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, or during the month of Nissan.