The funeral may start at the funeral home before proceeding to the cemetery where the service is conducted. You are advised to dress appropriately and switch off your mobile phone. Men can dress in a clean and nice suit. Women should also put on a decent skirt. A black dress code is usually common in most Jewish burials. Men are also advised to cover their heads.
You will find a basket full of Kippahs which is a traditional Jewish cap as you enter any funeral home or cemetery. One thing you will notice is that close family members will tear their clothing over the chest area as a sign of loss. This practice is referred to as the Keriya among the Jews. The deceased children can wear torn clothes during the mourning period which goes for a week. It is referred to as Shivah.
The casket remains closed throughout the service because it is forbidden to look at the deceased. The funeral will start with Hesped which is a part of the program where you get to hear eulogies from friends and family members of the dead before proceeding to special prayers. Levaya is the next practice after the prayers where the body is carried to its final resting area.
At the Cemetery
Once the body is lowered, Kevurah takes place. This practice involves shoveling soil onto the coffin. Rather than trying the conventional procedure of passing the shovel directly to the next person, one will put it in the dirt or soil before the next person picks it up to carry on. The mourners will, later on, recite the Kaddish which is a special prayer after which the bereaved are comforted.
The remaining relatives of the deceased will bring comfort to the late by praising Hashem publicly. They will express their wish for the display of Hashem’s rule on earth. The prayer type said in funerals has extra lines meant to show the expectation of the arrival of Messiah and also the resurrection of the dead.
Once the deceased has been honored, all the attention is turned towards the mourners through performing the Mitzvah or commandment of nichum avelim. This commandment is all about comforting those who have lost a loved one. Those present in the funeral will form a line, and the mourners will pass by chanting “May Hashem, who is present everywhere comfort you and the other mourners from Zion and Jerusalem” in Jewish.
When dispersing one the funeral is over, you will overhear people telling one another ‘oyf simches’ which simply means ‘let’s meet during happy moments. The last bit of it is mourners washing their hands before getting home once they leave the funeral. Most cemeteries will have taps and cups outside. Wash all your hands. Just like the shovel custom, the washing cup is not passed from one person to another directly. It should be placed upside down on a specific spot before the next person picks it up. One is also not allowed to dry their hands after washing. The next six days will see mourners go through Shivah. It is during that period they comfort and sympathize with the bereaved.