Jewish Funeral Customs

Jewish funeral customs hold deep significance within the Jewish faith, providing a framework for mourning and honouring the deceased. These customs, rooted in ancient traditions, guide the bereaved through the process of saying goodbye and offer comfort during a time of grief.

Preparation for Burial


After death occurs, the body is prepared for burial through a ritual called Taharah. Taharah involves washing and purifying the body, symbolizing the respect and purity accorded to the deceased.


The body is then watched over and guarded until burial. Family members, friends, or members of the Chevra Kadisha (a Jewish burial society) take turns staying with the body, showing respect and offering prayers.

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Funeral Service


Jewish funerals typically take place as soon as possible after death, with the goal of burying the deceased within 24 hours. The body is interred in a simple wooden casket, reflecting the Jewish belief in the importance of returning to the earth naturally.


A eulogy, known as “Hesped” is delivered during the funeral service. The Hesped aims to honor the deceased by recounting their life, highlighting their virtues, and sharing meaningful stories and memories.


Following the burial, mourners recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer of praise to God. This prayer is traditionally recited by close family members for the first year after the death and serves as a way to honor the memory of the deceased.



Shiva is a period of mourning observed by the immediate family of the deceased. It typically lasts seven days, during which family members refrain from work, engage in prayer, and receive visitors offering condolences.


During the Shiva period, it is customary to gather for daily prayer services known as the Minyan. The Minyan allows mourners to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish in the presence of a supportive community.

Seudat Havra’ah

Friends and community members often provide meals to the mourners during the Shiva period. This act of kindness, known as Seudat Havra’ah, helps alleviate the practical burdens of grieving and provides comfort to the bereaved.


Jewish funeral customs provide a structured and meaningful way to mourn and remember the deceased. By honoring ancient traditions, these customs offer solace, support, and a sense of community to those experiencing loss. Understanding and respecting these customs can help foster empathy and compassion for Jewish mourners during their time of grief.