Jewish Funeral is a life cycle ceremony raised with high respect and responsibility.
Love and lost are side by side.
When a beloved family member is called back by G-d, it is the obligation of the family to take care of them. We are to escort them to their final resting place. It may be the family plot that was arranged for two to three generations. Or it may be in the same cemetery but located in a different section.
The rituals are in place to take care of the person that died and take care of the next of kin that mourns.
This is a brief, but helpful guide to the rites and rituals for the Jewish Funeral.
Funeral Homes and Funeral Directors
A Jewish Funeral home provides the services to properly prepare our beloveds for burial. Jewish teachings show us the rites and traditions for the body is carefully watched over until that day. The funeral home is staffed 24 hours, 7 Days a week. This gives many that are related to the deceased that peace of mind, they are not alone even in death.
You may choose the cleansing of the body called the Tahara. Including for those that sit and watch over the person that is dear to you. They are called a watcher. Remember, all that you say yes to is an added cost. If you are learning this for the first time, try not to be surprised. It has been the nature of the funeral business for decades.
This ritual is a private time for the immediate family. A person is chosen as the representative to observe the custom on checking the beloved is in the casket and should be wrapped in a white shroud. You are not choosing to clothe and bringing it to the funeral home.
MEMORIAL CHAPEL, NOW GRAVESIDE
Before Pandemic 2020, many would gather at the funeral home and pay their respects. A pre-cemetery service is lead by the Rabbi with the same psalms, prayers, and customs now standing graveside at the cemetery. The gathering of how many can attend is limited. The funeral directors and the office at the cemetery will provide what is permissible.
CONGREGATIONAL RABBI VS INDEPENDENT RABBI
The rabbi can be the family rabbi or one is referred by the funeral directors. They are mostly congregational rabbis. It started this way in years past to help build up the temple and synagogue memberships with congregational members. In turn, the congregants would use the funeral home.
Today, there are more independent rabbis with no congregational ties and responsibilities. There are many positive reasons why they chose this path. They can lead a funeral service with the same respect, training in pastoral care, and warmth as a congregational rabbi. An independent rabbi follows the same protocol.
HOW A RABBI IS PAID
The Funeral Director Association creates the Honorarium (fee) for all the rabbis across the board. The funeral director handles the payment to all the rabbis. The current
30 Days – Shloshim
For One Full Year
Leading to One Year – The Unveiling
The costs can be quite steep and can add up. It is best to go to a funeral home and have a meeting with a funeral director. They will show you the list of costs for all they provide. Pre-planning offers to do so in a more rational state than under the emotional stress in a mourning state. This includes being shown the caskets. Judaism teaches a modest one to be chosen rather than an elaborate one. Your wishes are checked off and a price is set. You may take care of the costs in advance and honored. Always ask the director about his statement.
There are now independent casket companies online selling them as well. A funeral home should not charge a handling fee if an outside casket company supplies one. The requirement from Judaism is to be all wood with no metal inside and out.