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Death and Judaism

Our Talmud writes, “What does it mean that there is no authority over the day of death? It means no one possesses the authority to tell [to the angel of death], "Wait for me until I arrange my affairs and then I will come." Although death and dying is a universal experience, it is a subject that is often avoided.  Our hope with this webpage is to stimulate conversations and thoughts surrounding death, and to provide a starting point to help prepare you and your loved ones for what can often be a difficult and emotional time. It is our goal that by having these difficult conversations, we encourage community members to make their end of life plans well in advance, so their loved ones can focus on mourning their loss.

In our tradition when a loved one and community member dies, we believe the body should  be treated with dignity and that burial should happen as fast as possible. From the moment our community learns of a death it is our responsibility to move quickly and prepare for all the things that the family and our tradition requires. This includes watching the body, called Shmira, and performing Tahara, which is ritually cleaning the body. Both are described in greater detail below. This also includes working with the family so all the logistics of the funeral and burial are taken care of for their loved one.

In Judaism we are commanded to bury our loved ones within three days of their death at the maximum. It’s preferable to do so sooner. If you would like to help in this part of the process there are lots of opportunities for community members to volunteer so that we can ease the suffering of mourning loved ones and make the grieving process easier. See below for more options to help.

To learn more about Jewish rituals and customs around death we added some links with helpful information:


Thu, January 21 2021 8 Sh'vat 5781