Going to a Jewish Funeral

Bad news, unfortunately, travels fast. It can be helpful to know in advance what to do when attending a Jewish funeral.

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Reprinted with permission from A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort (Jewish Lights).

You will hear about a funeral. Bad news travels fast. And the news of a funeral travels at the speed of light. You will likely get a phone call from someone. Or in a true sign of advancing age, you may have reached that time in your life when you regularly read the obituary column in the newspaper.

Once you hear the news, here are the steps to follow in attending a funeral:

1. Decide whether you're going. Since there is often such short notice of a funeral, you may very well need to clear your calendar or make the necessary arrangements to attend the service. Most employers are understanding and will allow jewish mourneryou time off to attend a funeral. If you have young children, you may need to arrange childcare. If you don't drive, you may need to ask someone for transportation to the funeral.

2. Dress appropriately. Proper attire for a funeral is a dress for women and a coat and tie for men. (It is generally customary for men to wear a head covering, called a kippah or yarmulke, during a funeral and burial. In some liberal congregations, this applies to both men and women; in others, head coverings are rare even for men. These will generally be available at the funeral home or cemetery.)

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Dr. Ron Wolfson

Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University and the president of Synagogue 3000.