When attending a funeral, one is already grieving the loss of a friend or a family member. On top of that, if one has no clue about what to say or do on this occasion, the situation can get very stressful. Knowing the proper etiquette helps people conduct themselves properly at a funeral and can save them from getting into awkward situations. So, if you are attending a Jewish funeral and are thinking what would be the proper etiquette, then here are some tips to ease your confusion.
The first thing that you should do is to find out where the memorial service will be held. Some Jewish families have this at the funeral home, some at the cemetery, while others hold it at the synagogue. So, it is always better to ask the family where the service is going to take place.
The Jewish are very traditional people, so it is very important that a person dresses conservatively and follows an appropriate etiquette. Clothing for men should be a coat and a tie, while women should wear a dress that is well below the knees, with shoulders completely covered.
According to Jewish traditions and customs, flowers should not be sent or given to the mourning family. In fact, any effort to make the family cheerful should not be made. Orthodox Jewish tradition says that the family should be left to mourn their loss.
What to Say
A person should not initiate a conversation, instead he/she should wait for the family members to say something. Once the family members have spoken, a person should console them and talk to them about the deceased. Traditionally, the guests are supposed to praise the deceased and share their memories with the family members and other people present. People are also expected to ask the family whether they need any kind of help.
At the Burial
When you attends the funeral service and the burial, you should attentively listen to the eulogies, even if you do not understand them. You should show respect when prayers are being offered and listen to them. During the burial, you should participate in filling the grave with dirt. When holding the shovel, it should be seen to it that it is pointed downwards. Three shovelfuls of dirt should be put in the grave by one person. When you are finished with it, you should keep the shovel in the dirt and should not hand it over to anyone else present. After leaving the graveside, you should wash your hands, symbolizing cleansing.
After the Burial
After the burial, according to Jewish custom, the family should be given a period of seven days to mourn their loss. This mourning period, known as "Shiva" is an essential grieving tradition followed by the family of the deceased. When this mourning period is over, you can contact the family through telephone and ask them permission to visit their house. When visiting the mourning house, you should never go empty handed. You should take small gifts, such as fruit baskets or some kosher foods, and offer them to the family. When visiting the family, you should sit on seats that are of regular or average height. The other seats that are low in height are meant for the family members who are mourning. You should console the family members and offer them your sympathy and support in bearing their loss.