What are the Jewish burial rituals?
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.