Bury Me Like a Jew

For a variety of reasons I don’t do very many Jewish things in my life. For example, you may remember my post about delicious smoked bacon which is like kryptonite to Jews. However, one thing I really like about Jewish tradition is the funeral. This morning I was reading an article about funeral directors scaring their customers to stay away from “green burials” which were probably invented by the Jews.

I always thought that embalming, make-up, viewing, expensive accessories, pillows (WTF?), shiny caskets, concrete vaults are creepy and morbid. It’s hard to believe how much money this ends up costing the survivors. Even if the person decided to prepay his own funeral wouldn’t they get more enjoyment out of it if they used it for a cruise or a new car before they pass on. What’s the big deal about keeping the dead body around for a week so every last relative can show up to look at fresh out-of-the-freezer stiff with some theatrical make-up slathered on.

The Jews got it covered:

  • No waiting. You die in the morning – buried same day, unless it’s a Saturday. The rule is “as soon as possible”.
  • No embalming or otherwise decorating the dead body, just a warm water rinse. That’s mostly the reason for the rule number one. No embalming means some unpleasant smell.
  • No suit and tie or some other clown outfit, just a linen burial garment.
  • No open casket, you should remember the deceased as they lived.
  • No fancy coffin, just the cheapest pine box made entirely out of wood;apparently in Israel they just wrap the dead in a sheet.
  • No flowers; donations to a charity are appropriate.
  • Organ donations are allowed, but no cremation.

As with most things Jewish, there are many traditional rituals associated with death, funeral and mourning but they are designed to return the body to earth, remember the deceased while erasing the difference between rich and poor.

If this is your thing and you feel like you need to go in a cool shiny casket with adjustable mattres and pillow, at least do your relatives a favor and buy it at Costo. Not only will you save but it will be a nice chunk of money on your Costco American Express rebate and you will stiff (ha) the greedy funeral home bastards. As for me, I am going Jewish. I hope they don’t smell bacon on me.
If you don’t like to read, here is a Rabbi talking about Jewish funerals.