Burial For Jews
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Preserving life is the most important thing in Judaism and as a result death is not looked upon. Burial for Jews begins with the closing of the eyes of the deceased. Thereafter, the body is covered and then placed on the floor. Candles are lit and kept next to the body. A deceased is never left alone. However, it is considered disrespectful to the death person to eat, drink or perform mitzvot next to the deceased.
If a person is in the presence of a dead body, he or she is considered to be ritually unclean. This is the reason why the Jewish priest does not come near the dead body, and anyone who has been in the presence of the body should wash their hands prior to entering a house.
The group of volunteers known as chevra kaddisha takes care of the dead body. Their task is to wash the body and prepare it for the burial. According to Jewish religious laws, a body is never cremated. Instead, it should be buried as soon as possible after the death occurs. Also, the body should not be embalmed, and the organs or bodily fluids should not be removed. In addition, the body should be put for viewing as there is a belief that the enemies of the dead person should see him or her in this helpless state. The dead are buried with an ordinary shroud made from linen, so that there is no disparity between the rich and poor. Besides the shroud, the dead body is covered with a tallit. Usually coffins are not used as Jewish belief is that the body must be in contact with the earth. But, coffins can be used as long as a hole is made in it for the earth to enter inside.
The funeral service for the deceased can take place in the synagogue, at the burial site or even at the funeral home. The service is generally simple and short involving the recitation of psalms and saying of the traditional memorial prayer. In addition, a eulogy is read to honor the deceased.
The shrouded body is carried to grave site by family and friends in a casket. During this journey, the pallbearers stop 7 times. On reaching the grave site, the casket is slowly lowered into the grave and thereafter the grave is filled with earth using the reverse side of the shovel. A mound is formed on top of the casket and after that the Kaddish is recited by the rabbi.Then the mourners leave the cemetery by passing between 2 rows of people who are also in attendance for the funeral. After leaving the cemetery, all the mourners have to wash their hands.
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