Jewish Mourning Customs

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  • Jewish Mourning Customs
    • 1. Onan: the first 24 hours
      • Tear garment
      • Body is washed thoroughly
        • Kittel - plain white garment
        • Tallit for males fringes cut
      • Plain coffin
      • Remain with body
      • Funeral
      • Boiled eggs
        • Reminder of resurrection and the cyclic essence of life
    • 2. Shiva: the first 7 days
      • Period of intense mourning
      • Mourners stay at home and receive visitors
      • All mirrors are covered or turned around
      • Mourners sit low to the floor
      • A candle is kept alight
      • Jewish community visit, offer help and recite the Kaddish
      • Shiva baskets are brought to the home
      • Mourners should not:
        • Wear leather
          • These are symbols of personal mortification
        • Play music
          • These are symbols of personal mortification
        • Cut nails or hair
      • 3. Sheloshim: the first 30 days
        • Mourners are allowed to leave their home and return to work
        • Males must attend a synagogue daily to recite the Kaddish
          • Does not mention death
          • Praises God and asks for peace and a good life
          • Helps the bereaved to accept death as coming from God and continue to praise God, even in times of sadness
        • Headstones can be erected over the grave after Sheloshim
          • Jewish law requires that headstones are erected so the dead will be remembered and the grave will not be desecrated
      • 4. Yahrzeit: anniversary
        • In some Jewish communities, pebbles are placed on the grave when visiting; the origins of this act are not clear
        • On the anniversary, a candle is kept burning through the night and day and the Kaddish is recited again
        • Male mourners continue to recite the Kaddish daily for 11 months


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