Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/11-06-08.html
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< Q11.6.7 TOC Q11.6.9 >

Question 11.6.8:
Death and Burial: Can Jews be cremated?

Answer:

It is contrary to Jewish tradition for a Jew to be cremated. Traditional Jewish authorities hold that the body must interred, in tact, in the earth and this ruling is almost 2000 years old.

In the post-holocaust generation, an additional argument against cremation relates to the Holocaust experience. When millions of our co-religionists were cremated as expedience and as a form of disrespect of Jewish sensitivities by the Nazis, for a Jew to wish such a body disposal is painful to the memory of the holocaust victims.

However, especially among progressive Jews, cremation is becoming an alternative burial choice because of financial considerations. Rabban Gamliel II argued for simple burial (wooden caskets, plain shrouds, closed caskets) in order to give great equality for all Jews. Wealthy Jews used to have extravagant funerals while poor Jews might abandon their dead for public burial. Rabban Gamliel's ruling was to lessen the financial burden on families. A similar argument is used for cremation, for it makes all equal.

If one chooses cremation, one should bury the cremains as opposed to keeping them in the closet or scattering them to the winds/seas. There is psychological value to having a site to focus one's mourning. This may ease the pain of the mourners.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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