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Answered 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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