What are the Jewish burial rituals?

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2008-01-08 11:37:19

From the time of death until burial the corpse is not left

unattended. Usually candles are lit near a corpse. Corpses are

always entirely covered - never is a dead person put on display.

Corpses are washed before burial and then dressed in plain white

(linen) shrouds which cover them entirely, including a hood over

the head and gloves over the hands and feet. Males are then wrapped

in a Tallit (prayer shawl), females in a plain sheet. If a coffin

is used it needs to be of plain wood. In Israel burial is done

directly into the ground. The burial is supposed to take place as

soon as possible. Only males actively take part in funerals while

women may attend. Before the burial it is customary to give a

eulogy - except on days considered festive. After the corpse /

coffin is lowered into the ground and covered with something solid

(if there's no coffin), the participants take turns shoveling dirt

into the grave. The Kaddish is then recited - by descendant or

relatives if they are present. Burials can take place during the

day or night. Most Jewish communities have burial societies (called

"Chevra Kadisha - lit. "Holy Society") to take care of the entire

process from death until funeral. After the funeral the relatives

(parents, siblings, spouse & children) spend a week "sitting

Shiva" during which they must sit on the ground (on on low stools),

may not leave the house (except for emergencies) and during which

they mourn their loss.

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