Jewish Burial Customs


Jewish Customs Prior to Burial More Detail

  • Tahara: Ritual washing and purification of the deceased.
  • Tahara is performed by members of the Chevra Kadisha (see Chevra Kadisha below) or “Sacred Society”.
  • Shmeerah: The watching over the deceased by a shomer.  This person recites psalms on behalf of the deceased until burial.
  • Tachrichim: A traditional white burial shroud.  This is a symbol that all people are equal before their Creator.
  • Kavod Hamet: Respectful treatment of the deceased.
  • Chevra Kadisha: A holy society made up of knowledgeable and observant people. Responsible for performing the Tahara (see Tahara above). Men care for men, women care for women.
  • Kriah: Tearing of garments.  It is customary for mourners to tear an outer garment. A more common practice today is wearing a torn black ribbon.
  • Oron: All-wood casket.
  • Shiva: The seven-day morning period following the burial.
  • Kaddish: A prayer sanctifying God’s name, recited by mourners.
  • K’vurah: Burial. Participation is both a privilege and a duty.
  • Shurah: Two lines formed by the community through which the mourners pass when leaving the cemetery.
  • Onen/Onenet: “One in distress”. Immediate family members (mourners), from the moment of death until burial. Excused from all obligations, except making funeral arrangements. (Aninut – the period of mourning.)
  • Avel/Avela: “One who is sad, grieving”. Immediate family members (mourners), from the moment of burial to the end of the mourning period. (Avelut – the mourning period.)
  • Shloshim: Thirty-day mourning period following the burial (includes Shiva).
  • Shanah: Year of Mourning following the death of a parent, (Kaddish recited for eleven months).
  • Yahrzeit: Anniversary of the Hebrew date of death.
  • Yizkor: Memorial recited four times per year: Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, Passover, and Shavuot.

For additional resources regarding ritual observance, please contact one of our funeral directors or family service counselors at (847) 255-3520.

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