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Funeral / Burial

When a Jew dies, Jews recite prayers ending with the Shema, the main text of the Jewish liturgy. As far as possible, it is customary not to leave a person who is dying alone. Once dead, the person is washed and buried according to a ritual. The relatives of the deceased (parents, wife, brothers, sisters and children) tear off part of their clothes before the ceremony to symbolise their grief. Jews are buried in very simple coffins or shrouds which symbolise equality as well as the worthlessness of material wealth. The relatives of the deceased participate in the burial by throwing earth into the grave until the coffin is covered. This ceremony is brief and simple. After the funeral, the immediate family observes a shivah, period of mourning, which lasts seven days (shivah means seven in Hebrew). During this mourning period, they must sit in low chairs and are not allowed to look in mirrors, shave or have their hair cut.

Friends and extended family will bring food to the relatives of the deceased. Prayers are said every evening and a candle is kept lit for the whole duration of the mourning. Family members do not participate in any celebrations or parties within 30 days of the burial.