The passing of a loved one is always a tragic time for any family and according to the religion and social background of him/her, the customs and traditions followed at the place where the funeral is held and the memorial/funeral ceremony will also differ. The same can be said to a Jewish funeral and if you will be attending one, there are certain etiquettes that need to be followed so that you will not end up being disrespectful to the deceased person or their family members, mistakenly.
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Following the Traditions
The Jewish are famous for being very traditional in their way of living and the same applies for their funeral ceremonies as well. The attire being worn at a funeral should match up with their traditions too, where a suit and tie should be worn by a man and a dress that covers the body properly and a shawl that covers both shoulders should be worn by a woman. Jewish customs also mandate that the grieving family of the deceased person should not be cheered up and that they should be left alone to do their mourning. So make sure not to send flowers or any sort of arrangements made from flora to a Jewish funeral.You should also find out where the funeral will be held as even though some services are usually held at the deceased person’s home itself or the cemetery some Jewish orthodox funerals might be held in the synagogue in the area. It would also be best to know the proper way to offer your condolences to the family beforehand as well.
The Do’s and Do Not’s
When you are attending the funeral service of a Jewish family also make sure that you do not start up a conversation with a family member and wait till one of them talks with you first. Once the conversation is underway, you can reminisce, the good memories that you shared with their lost, loved one and also praise and honour him/her properly.Do not forget to ask the grieving family members if they require any sort of help for the arrangements of the funeral too as it is considered to be customary. The prayers and eulogies that are being read while you are visiting the funeral should be listened to attentively and respectfully as well.Also if you are planning to visit the burial ceremony and put mud into the grave site, put three shovels of mud and leave the shovel stuck in the dirt without handing it over to another person.Afterwards, if you are going to visit the deceased person’s home again then in order to symbolize the cleansing your body, you will require to thoroughly wash your hands.
Once the ‘Shiva’, which is the seven day period that the family follows in mourning is over you can visit their home again to offer your support/sympathy, after asking them the permission to do so. A gift like a basket of fruit/food can be taken when you are visiting them and also make sure to sit on a chair that is of normal height as the lower seats are usually meant for only the mourning members of the family.