Jewish Funeral Practices 101

Jewish funeral practices: why do they not encourage cremation, embalming, open caskets or viewing, flowers, ostentatious caskets, and delayed funerals? What is the funeral like? How do they mourn?

Here are the basic customs and principles of the Jewish funeral; equality, simplicity, respect for the dead body so they can respect the live body.


The gathering after a Jewish funeral ceremoney is called a Shiva. During that time, visitors pay their condolence call to the bereaved. The call can be made day or night. If possible, the visit should be delayed until the 3rd day after interment.

Visitors customarily do not pay condolence visits on the Sabbath or holidays, as these are days when one should not mourn publicly. There should be no greeting of welcome or farewell during shiva. It is not customary to speak until the mourner does.

The visitor should allow the mourner to talk and the visitor should not dominate the conversation. 

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