Intuitively developed art that follows its own internal logic free of other rules.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Views

 "Jews are generally buried in a very simple way, however. We are buried in a plain wood casket/coffin with no metal fittings; our bodies are not embalmed, so that they may return swiftly to the earth.
When a Jewish person dies, a group of people within the Jewish community called the chevre kadisha (which simply means "holy society") prepares the body for burial. The persons who do the preparation are the same gender as the deceased. The body is undressed, covered with a sheet to maintain the person's modesty even in death, and washed. After washing, the body is dressed in simple white garments - loose top and drawstring pants of cotton; alternatively, a shroud may be used. The body is then placed in the casket/coffin. The head and face are also covered. If the deceased owned a prayer shawl, it is rendered no longer kosher by cutting off one corner with its fringes, and is placed in the coffin with the deceased. Any items that the family might wish to include are also placed in the coffin, and it is closed. The coffin always has holes drilled in it, so that the body may come in contact with the earth; some Jews choose to dispense with the coffin entirely.

In the time between the death and burial, the body is NEVER left alone. The body is ritually guarded by shomerim - guards or "keepers." The shomerim are not allowed to eat, drink, or perform any commandment in the presence of the deceased; it is considered to be mocking the dead, as a dead person no longer has the privilege of doing these things.

Jewish funerals are always "closed-casket." We do not believe in remembering the person as a dead body, but rather in remembering them as the living person that they were. Funerals are held within 24 hours of death if at all possible, unless that would place the funeral on the sabbath; in that case, they are held as soon after the sabbath as is practical.

We do not use flowers at our funerals; we believe that flowers are for joyous occasions, and when we lose someone dear to us, we are not joyful.

There used to be occasions when a Jew was not buried in a Jewish cemetery because they had committed suicide; this was before suicide was understood as a mental imbalance, and I haven't heard of it actually occurring in a LONG time. Jews are buried face-up, like anyone else, no matter where they are buried."

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