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Jewish Death Practices:
Overview / Summary
Origins and History
Visiting the Sick or Dying 
Chaplaincy
Hospice

Phases of Death Observance
    Approaching the Time of Death
    Between Death and Burial
    Shemira
    Tahara
    Burial and Cremation 
    Mourning Practices

Spiritual Aspects
Funeral Homes
Funeral Contracts
Cemeteries
Embalming 

Caskets


Chevra Kadisha:
Articles about Chevra Kadisha

Tahara Manuals and Procedures
Tahara Training
Tahara Stories
Tahara Supplies Lists
Funeral Home Supplies

Suicide

Organ Donation

Disasters

Infection Control

 

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Learning & Resources:
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FAQ About Death and Dying
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When a Jewish loved one dies

When a Jewish loved one dies…will you know what to do? 

 

Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of

Greater Washington

 www.Jewish-funerals.org

 

A Basic Guide to Jewish Funeral Practice

Before making funeral arrangements, it is helpful to understand the basic principles and practices concerning death and mourning to which all branches of Judaism subscribe:

  • The body is holy. It once held life and retains its sanctity after death. Traditionally, it is accorded the greatest respect and is accompanied from death to burial. It is not desecrated by embalming or burning. Once the body is placed in the casket, the casket is closed and there is no "viewing."
  • Death is part of Nature. Nothing is done to mask the reality of death. Traditionally, cosmetics are not applied, and embalming is not practiced. The funeral and burial are usually a day or two following death. The body's elements return to nature. 
  • Equality and Simplicity. Ostentation is avoided. The same dignity and simplicity is adhered to for rich and poor alike. Traditionally, the body is dressed in simple white garments (tachrichim) and buried in a plain wooden casket with no ornamentation.
  • Funeral and Burial. Funeral services consist of Psalms and other Biblical readings, the prayer, "God, full of mercy," and one or more eulogies. Traditionally, there are no floral displays or music and burial is in the earth in a Jewish cemetery, where the bereaved family first says the Kaddish prayer.
  • Comforting the Bereaved. After burial, concern is for the living. Friends and family comfort the bereaved, providing a meal of condolence at their home and visiting them during Shivah, the initial mourning period of up to seven days following burial.

Arranging a Jewish Funeral in the Greater Washington Area

The Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington contracts with two local funeral homes to provide a quality traditional Jewish funeral at a fixed modest cost.

If you belong to a synagogue, first contact its clergy, office staff or funeral committee.

If you are unaffiliated with a synagogue, directly contact:

In the District of Columbia and Maryland:

Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home

11800 New Hampshire Avenue

Silver Spring, MD 20904

301-622-2290

In Virginia:

Jefferson Funeral Chapel

5755 Castlewellan Drive

Alexandria, VA 22315

703-971-7400

 

When calling either funeral home be sure to ask for the "Jewish Funeral Package." 

What is the Jewish Funeral Package?

The contract price includes picking up the body at the place of death; transportation to the funeral home, the funeral and the cemetery; refrigeration; a simple casket; and use of the funeral home chapel for the funeral service, if desired. 

In addition, the funeral home will:

  • help you find a rabbi to conduct the funeral and burial
  • arrange for a newspaper death notice and complete and pick up certified copies of the death certificate
  • provide any needed limousine service
  • help you make necessary burial arrangements with a Jewish cemetery

The cost of limousine service, printing of the death notice, and copies of the death certificate are fixed under our contract but are not included in the funeral package price.

The funeral package price also does not include the cost of a cemetery plot or cemetery charges for a cement liner (if required) or for opening and closing the grave.

It's best to have bought grave sites in advance.  If you have not yet bought grave sites and have no personal reason to choose one or another cemetery, we recommend The Garden of Remembrance in Clarksville MD, which is the only area Jewish non-profit community-owned cemetery, or any of the synagogue-owned cemeteries.

Additional details about the JFPCGW funeral contracts and current pricing information can be found at our website, www.Jewish-funerals.org

For further guidance peruse the website or contact Robert Hausman, JFPCGW president, at rmhausman@gmail.com or at 202-966-1545

"We sustain the poor...and visit the sick... and bury the dead...and comfort the bereaved... for these are ways of peace."

            (Talmud, Tractate Gittin 61a)

Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington