The Pros and Cons of Jewish Cremation: debunking myths and misconceptions
Despite cremation becoming more common among the Jewish community, it’s still frowned upon by a large majority. The values of tradition and often vehement opposition to the practice have led to a whole lot of misconceptions.
The following should go some way to addressing most of these…
Jewish Cremation Rules: everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
- The must-know Jewish Cremation rules
- The pros and cons of Jewish cremation
The must-know Jewish cremation rules
First and foremost, it’s important to state that cremation is not illegal in Jewish law. There have been some attempts to make it so over the past couple of hundred years, but forbidding the practice has never been enshrined into Jewish law, no matter what people might tell you. However, it’s still an end-of-life service that many Rabbis and members of the Jewish faith strongly oppose.
Other ‘rules’ that you might mistakenly be told are true include:
- Shiva is not permitted if a person is to be cremated: This is not true. The mourning period can still be carried out.
- A Rabbi cannot officiate at a cremation ceremony: Again, this isn’t true. While a Rabbi may well refuse to do so (especially if they’ve stated that the family shouldn’t have the body cremated) there is nothing to stop them from performing the service. Progressive Rabbis might strike a happy medium to satisfy all parties involved, and instead preside over a pre-ceremony, rather than the cremation ceremony itself.
- You can’t bury ashes in a Jewish cemetery: Again, untrue. While you can’t inter ashes, there is nothing to stop them being placed in an urn and buried. Many Jewish cemeteries will do this.
- Relatives do not have to adhere to a person’s desire to be cremated: While no law that specifically confirms or denies this, today’s increasingly liberal views towards Jewish cremation might make going directly against a person’s wishes something to be carefully considered.
The pros and cons of Jewish Cremation
Jewish cremation has many advantages. Of course, there’s always the flip side of this, so we’ll consider both the pros and the cons.
- Cremation can be cheaper and more practical than a traditional burial.
- Burying ashes takes up less room—something that is very practical when taking up space in crowded city burial grounds.
- For those who wish to be laid to rest in Israel, it’s far more practical (not to mention less expensive) to transport ashes than a body.
- The greatest one must be that not every member of the deceased family or friends is likely to agree with cremation.
- Disagreement over the cremation process can lead to rifts between families and friends.
- You may have to find a different Rabbi to perform the ceremony if yours doesn’t agree to do so.
Cremation is only truly accepted in the Reform movement, although you’ll still find that Rabbis will question families to check that this is definitely the route they wish to take. Despite increasing numbers of Jews choosing to opt for cremation, it will take a lot more time before the taboo surrounding it is broken down. However, as time moves on, different views and practicalities will likely see this end-of-life choice become more widespread.
Get the Real Lowdown on Jewish Cremation Rules from the Jewish Cremation Society
The Jewish Cremation Society exists primarily to provide anyone with the correct information surrounding Jewish cremation. Unbiased, straightforward intel is woefully lacking, which is the very reason we came into being.
Don’t get confused about the mysteries and untruths that continue to surround what you can and can’t do regarding Jewish cremation.
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