As a Jewish Funeral Home in Toronto, we are honored to have the opportunity to serve Jewish families by providing funeral, monument and cemetery services while upholding all Jewish customs. With our long history of serving Toronto’s Jewish community, we understand the needs of both today’s Jewish family as well as traditions dating back many years. With centuries of tradition and Jewish law upholding it, a Jewish funeral is a modest and quiet religious service formulated to honour and commemorate the dead all while offering condolence and support to the bereaved.
Jewish funerals are comprised of two primary governing principles. The first is Kavod Ha-Met, translated to Honoring the Dead, which explains that it is very important to respect and care for the body from the time of death all the way until the burial reaches its completion. Moreover, all acts of kindness performed for someone who has passed is regarded as the ultimate act of selflessness as the kindness cannot be repaid. The 2nd principle teaches that death is a naturally-occurring event within one’s life cycle and that one should ultimately be returned to the earth from which he or she originally came from.
Keeping these two governing principles in mind, the following are the basic requirements for a traditional Jewish funeral service:
Taharah or Rehisa (Traditional Washing)
Customary to Jewish law, the body of the departed is thoroughly cleaned and washed. Members of the Chevra Kadisha (the holy society) make the necessary preparations for the deceased’s interment by performing a ceremonial bath called the Taharah (purification), or the the Rehisa (bathing). In all instances, these types of ceremonial baths are completed for women by women and for men by men.
It is of high importance that the body of the deceased is watched over up until the completion of the burial. Designed to honour the recently departed, this service may be performed by either a close family member or a member of the Chevra Kadisha.
K’reeah (The Tearing of Garments)
Prior to the commencement of the funeral service, immediate relatives are asked to make a tear in their outer clothing in order to symbolize their grief and anguish. This ritual may be performed by a rabbi or torn black ribbons may be offered to attach to mourners’ clothing.
Tachrichim (Burial Garments)
In more traditional families, a simple white shroud is used to wrap the body, known as a tachrichim and represents the symbolism that all are equal before the Creator.
The 100% wooden casket marks the Rabbinical teaching which states, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.”
The specific ceremony involving the burial of the deceased into the ground is called the K’vurah B’kara. Earth is filled into grave to form a mound. Those who participate in the filling of the grave do so out of religious privilege and duty as well as honoring the deceased. In Jewish law, the burial must take as soon as realistically possible after death.
It is recommended to dress in dark-colored clothes, a skirt and blouse or dress is accepted for women, a jacket and tie for men. Men are also asked to wear a head covering called a kippah or a yarmulke.
Upon the conclusion of the burial, Jewish families and loved ones mourn by sitting shiva, typically at the home of a direct family member. A Shiva is a a 7-day mourning period observed by the bereaved.
Serving you in accordance with the traditions of your Jewish faith is an honor for us. With knowledge of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism, we can provide a funeral service which will be specially catered to you and your family.