Get latest articles and videos with Jewish
inspiration and insights
Watch the Purim story come alive.
The full video and text of the prime minister’s historic speech.
How my son overcame his debilitating stutter and became an inspirational speaker.
A warning to the world from the UN General Assembly podium: Don’t close your eyes to the atrocities around you.
Despite Israel’s lawful origins, it is the only country in the world whose legitimacy has been questioned.
Echoes of Queen Esther who broke protocol in the face of an Iranian threat to destroy her people.
How did he get the Jewish people to listen and help save the day?
Some women seem to be more interested in over-achieving than in maintaining a relationship.
Help! I need to lose weight after being in bed for a month with mono.
Getting the strength to live by your clarity.
This Purim, remove the four masks we wear and experience true joy.
One Jew’s creative way to help people quit smoking. Whoopi Goldberg is on board.
Giving your teens helpful, safe guidelines.
The drinking isn’t for the body; use it for the soul.
Some tantalizing salads for your festive Purim meal.
Yes it can work. Here’s how.
Attaining the self-assurance you need to achieve true intimacy with another person.
Staying true to yourself while dating.
An exciting exhibit presents direct evidence of the Jewish community in Babylonia right before and after the destruction of the First Temple.
Summing up the Purim holiday: They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.
Kabbala is the Torah's expression of the way the world works. Removed from its source, it's a lot of rubbish. (First in a series.)
Practical and relevant insights on the weekly parsha.
Advanced-level midrashic and Kabbalistic illuminations on the weekly parsha.
Lessons, stories and discussion questions for parents and kids.
Little did I know that the source of my chutzpah reached back thousands of years, to Mordechai.
A video series that takes a closer, more grown-up look at the Book of Esther.
Purim and your unique role in life.
Amazing infographic to SHARE with your friends and family about Judaism's most fun holiday.
Purim is the holy holiday of candy – allow me to prepare you.
Jon Stewart has won 19 Emmy Awards. I am ready to win 19 Emmy Awards, given the chance.
What would have been the harm if Marty had used the almanac to win a few bets?
A big picture overview capturing the meaning and joy of the holiday.
Building unity through kindness.
Taking responsibility for the environment. A message for Tu B'shvat.
July 6, 2013
Click here to read more about the Jewish perspective on cremation.
July 11, 2013 10:09 PM
Please can someone comment
Please can someone settle my mind regarding burial and how we see in modern day ancient graves are dug up. It bothers me greatly. Its the only aspect of being buried I cannot get my head around
July 21, 2013 6:49 AM
Quote from Yoda - "Luminous being we are, not this crude matter"
We are advised/instructed/commanded to take utmost care with our bodies in recognition of the invaluable soul it houses. A soul that yearns to know G-d is invaluable in our world, but once the body dies and the soul departs, the remaining skeleton is not the same thing anymore. Sure, it helps the grieving process to have a place dedicated to someone's memory and it may even infer a certain level of respect for that person. It may even tie in with our belief that the dead will be resurrected (although I always thought that was supposed to be understood metaphorically). Perhaps you would consider consulting a Rabbi on why it is you feel greatly concerned about the treatment of ancient graves. G-d has a unique way for tugging on the heart strings of everyone who cares. L'Chaim.
July 21, 2013 11:51 PM
Thank you Wassim
Wassim, thanks for replying. I do get what you are saying and I have asked rabbis. The usual answer is there is no need to worry about such things. But this side of the world ( Australia ) graves are often desecrated and unfortunately it isnt unusual to hear about ancient graves being disturbed.
I sure as HaShem made little apples do not want to be dug up hundreds of years from now, who in the right mind would??
July 22, 2013 2:51 PM
G'day fellow Aussie!
If I had to choose, I'm more inclined to identify with my soul rather than with my body, should they become separated off-course. Even post my physical death, I think I would still feel somewhat protective and possessive over my own remains and the immediate surrounds as well. The issue of whether we should have the legal right to rest in peace and not have our burial grounds disturbed for as far into the future as is necessary (note I'm not ruling out physical resurrection of the dead, as per RAMBAM's 13) is an interesting perspective I hadn't yet considered. I agree it has moral merit, but to turn it into law you'd have to argue all sorts of issues many people consider pure mysticism. Whether the soul exists? Whether the soul has a consciousness so it can experience the continuation of its existence? Whether the departed soul retains the memory of the physical death event or even their physical lifetime(s)? Whether it remembers where its body was buried? Do you know any good lawyers (joke)? You're most welcome esty.
July 11, 2013 1:23 PM
Cremation Environmentally Unfreindly
Lori - addtional points -with all the emphasis on going green etc - cremation is a very ungreen method - emits gobs of green house gasses - also - a true jewish burial affords the body a quick opportunity to decompose and replenish the earth - if propsed properly - a true Jewish burial - in a shroud and a plain simple box should have much more appeal to a pro-cremation person. Just some thoughts. SW
July 11, 2013 1:48 AM
G-d only sees the Soul
I already expressed my feelings about cremation in another story about a woman who wishes to be cremated and have her ashes turned into a diamond. I mentioned that the body is a vehicle for the soul and should be returned to where it came from. However some people are concerned about the souls of the people who are cremated like the 6 millions burned by the hand of evil. I believe that G-d only sees the souls of the departed since it is the soul that is reincarnated, it is immutable and contains all the characteristics of that person, the good and the bad that G-d may judge.
July 10, 2013 6:01 PM
I Can't Afford To Be A Jew
Today, economic times and those who don't prepare for their death economically may not have the means for a proper burial As it is, a cremation can be much less costly than completed burial. Sometimes the burden falls to the surviving family, and much as they loved the departed, they, too, may need financial relief.Another problem is when the departed was not a practicing Jew, but his family and children do not want to abandon their care of that family member. Also, with families being scattered around the country, many children are not able to afford even yearly travel to a grave site, so cremation is a logical alternative to keep the departed closer.This is becoming a greater problem here because of economics, decreasing religious practice, and dislocation of the family.
July 10, 2013 1:12 PM
Avi, who replied to Frank Adam of comment # 41, quoted Genesis 3:19: "You are from the earth and to it you shall return." That's a commandment. By G-d. Avi points out that the commandment is "explicit and implicit" -- meaning that for one thing the Jewish scholars who spent and spend their lives studying Torah, say that the commandment is to be fulfilled by going out the way we came in: whole inasmuch as is possible.Regarding the California law, you and others may like it, but where is it proved that it is a right and good law - in the absolute and eternal sense as are laws of the Torah?
July 10, 2013 10:03 AM
What about unintentional cremation
I understand tradition. I understand the law. But what about the poor souls cremated in an house fire. or in an act of war. I am sure that there will be an exception to this, but what is the difference. What are the loved ones left behind suppose to believe? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A cremated body are the ashes.
July 10, 2013 5:56 PM
When someone's cremated, their body is converted to gases (including steam) and ash. Ultimately, all of this returns to the earth. It just happens quicker. If we are commanded to let the dead return to the earth, are we specifically told NOT to cremate? Or is that simply the interpretation of scholars?
July 10, 2013 7:51 AM
Dismissive attitudes bring religion into disrepute
There might be lots of space in (old) Russia and N,America but it was /is not so around the Mediterranean where arable land was too precious to spend on big cemeteries which is why the Greeks and Romans cremated and moderns returned to the custom on leaving village for big towns and commercial undertakers/morticians. The custom was to let the body disintegrate for a year in a small burial ground or on a sarcophagus "bed" or shelf, and then gather the bones for a family charnel house/cave niche. Tour the Bet Shearim cemetery/catacombs and the tombs of the Kidron Valley etc and ponder the Biblical phrase, "He was gathered to his fathers." Finally in respect of, "coming from the Earth and returning to it," cremation just accelerates the disintegration. The principal reasons the Rabbis disliked cremation lie in their, "Hok Ha Goyim," general attitude and the fact that the Inquisition then the Nazis were too fond of burning people - and not just Jews.
July 10, 2013 9:16 AM
Not Quite correct
Yes the Romans and Greeks cremated their dead, BUT only their rich and famous, in the most cases it was the "heros" who were cremated, the hoi polloi were not. In Judaism, we believe in bodily resurrection, -no body, no resurrection. Jewish law ("Halachah") is unequivocal that the dead must be buried in the earth. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Gen 3:19. The Command here is both implicit and explicit "you are from the earth and to it you shall return. Judaism does not do the ahes to ashes bit. The expression he was gathered unto his fathers is a euphamism to say he died. The catacombs that you refer to is from Roman times and lasted about a century.
Raphaelle Do Lern Hwei,
July 10, 2013 5:03 AM
Cremation Is Not Enviromentally Friendly
When I was about 7 years old, I heard about the first cremation in my life. That of a much beloved former School Principal of my Dad and many family members - Francis Thomas (an Anglican priest). My first query directed towards several religious leaders in his community was whether the guy's soul will have the time to leave its temporary home before it was destroyed beyond recognition. The reply was that the soul vacates the body immediately after the person drawn his last breath.I was satisfied with the usual reasons of cremation being more space saving and we can keep the deceased's ashes at home in a portable canister.The now annual issue of the clearing of land for commercial crops in Indonesia and the resulting haze causes me to rethink my view. Cremation is not enviromentally friendly as human ashes (which is mainly inorganic minerals) when scattered in the sea or on the ground increases the alkalinity of the place. If it decomposes, the end product is more or less neutral.
July 10, 2013 4:44 AM
Where is it written?
Where is it written that cremation is forbidden.Do you know that here is California a body must be in a concrete vault that PREVENTS a body from going back into the dust/dirt?
July 11, 2013 2:42 AM
Working in one of the Mortuaries here in California, I can tell you there is no state law to put the body in a vault. Rather it is the cemetery that choosing to put the body in a vault to prevent the body from shifting. There are traditional orthodox cemeteries in Los Angeles that bury the casket directly into the earth with no vault
July 10, 2013 3:09 AM
think of others...
Cremation is a choice, albeit non-Halachic one. I urge anyone wishing to be cremated when their time comes to please think of their families. We have a difficult situation, my mother who TG is well, wishes to be cremated. However we (her kids) have become observant and are anti-cremation however she has written it in her will and we will likely have to endure additional pain when she passes due to being in a foreign non-denominational environment, without our Rabbonim and traditional mourning rites.
July 10, 2013 3:07 AM
Comments on Cremation
I agree with Rebbetzin Palatnik. Jewish practices come from the Torah and from Rabbinic rule. One needs to accept this. Cremation is not a part of Judaism. Besides the fact that it destroys the body that was made in HaShem's image, it is disrespectful of those who died in the Holocaust in the ovens. When I visit my parents' graves here in South Florida, it is a peaceful experience to see all of the other people here and read their stones. It also causes one to think of doing mitvahs while one has the opportunity.
July 10, 2013 12:59 AM
I will be buried but it scares me
As a convert I knew before I even began the process burial is the only one according to Halacha so I will be buried. However when I see history programs about digging up ancient graves it unnerves me. Can one of the rabbis discuss this issue please??
July 10, 2013 12:36 AM
This is such a painful subject. :( My uncle,ע״ה, passed last year, and although he and my aunt were far from religious, we in the family were surprised and upset.My mother tried, gently, to dissuade her sister-in-law from this path on traditional Jewish grounds. A most difficult task, to approach a widow at such a time.She was convinced she was doing the right thing! She was unmoved.My mother had arranged, years ago,burials על פי ההלכה for my grandparents,the parents of my mother and her brother.And my sister, her daughter ,ע״ה, Truth be told, it's highly unusual, even for observant Jews to learn the halachos surrounding death until the actual event is near, or upon them.I'm sure there are many good resources and books to refer to. I respectfully suggest The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Maurice Lamm.
David S. Levine,
July 10, 2013 12:00 AM
An Excellent explanation of the Jewish negation of cremation.
July 9, 2013 10:59 PM
'Jewish Cremation' should never exist. Words could not stay next to each other.
I am completely agree with Devorah and her reply.Jewish Cremation should never - never existed. We have Jewish way of life and Jewish way for burial for our loved people. This should be respected and followed even by circular Jews.This is may be the most important time to consult local Rebe and use services of Jewish Burial Society. Proper Jewish burial is an act of great respect and love for people we have lost.
July 9, 2013 10:52 PM
But what about the 6 million?
Does this mean that the beloved and lost six million Jews who were murdered and cremated in the Holocaust are lost to G-D?That their souls are lost too? Yes, I understand the Law about cremation. Yes, I understand about these beloved people not having a choice, but...was their forced cremation a further put down of us Jews by the Nazis, et.al?
July 10, 2013 1:29 PM
Not one of the 6,000,000 was "lost to G-d." Judaism does not work that way. G-d's children were cremated; they did decide to cremate themselves. Moreover, every one of those Jews is considered "Kadosh" - a holy soul - by virtue of the fact that each was murdered simply because he was a Jew. That's called dying "Al Kiddush Hashem" - for the sake of G-d - whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
As far as the Nazis go, who knows where their motives stopped. They were evil incarnate, so anything is possible
July 9, 2013 10:35 PM
Weren't enough Jews cremated by the Nazis? Why would anyone want to do this vile thing. Our bodies do not belong to us. Our bodies are the temple that holds our souls. When we cremate, where do we go to honor the dead? Ashes on the fireplace mantle? Someone that was human is now in an urn of ashes? Not to mention, as Lori said it is against Jewish law. When we go to visit loved ones in the cemetery and there is a stone with the person's name and a small description of him and her, we and the world remember that they lived. With cremation, it is as if they never lived.
July 10, 2013 4:22 PM
You honor the deceased in thought
My great, great grandparents are all buried in cemeteries in Europe, no one alive knows where. I do not visit the graves of my great grandparents, grandparents or parents, yet I still honor them and their memories by speaking of them to my children and grandchildren, other relatives and friends.
One does not need a granite head stone to be remembered and honored. You honor the deceased in thought.
July 9, 2013 8:10 PM
Loved your article. Alot of friends have chosen creamation. But, when my brother of blessed memory was about to pass away, he told my father that he wanted to be creamated. My dad said it was forbidden. When I asked my dad about it, he said that Israel only burned criminals and then the discussion was never resumed. I have been looking into this ever since. Thank you for your articles
July 9, 2013 8:07 PM
Where does it explicitly state?
Where does it explicitly state you will not cremate?Earth to Earth, ashes return to the earth .. we could debate the water, carbon and minerals ... but the Talmud doesn't go there.What it does say -- HONOR your parents! Honor their wishes... do not impose your bias on their wishes ... and Lori declares openly that she had intended to DISHONOR her mother's wishes. Her mother performed a Mitzvah by changing her wishes to conform to those of her daughter and, presumably her husband (to be buried next to him), though we do not know the husband's wishes.But we have her a clear statement that Lori would violate her mother's wishes to conform to her own interpretation of Earth to Earth -- where does it explicitly forbid cremation... ? You name a child for a deceased person so that they person's name, hence their memory, will "live in Israel." But it is the memory which is the honor, not the treatment of remains -- if it were remains, there are 6 million explanations Lori needs to provide to justify ... for whom she is raising an insult.
July 10, 2013 1:36 PM
"Her own interpretation"?
No. This is not Mrs. Palatnik's own interpretation. This is mainstream Judaism.
Furthermore, the 6,000,000 murdered are all holy no matter what, having died simply for being Jewish - another mainstream Jewish concept. You have arrived at unwarranted conclusions.
July 9, 2013 7:10 PM
To feed the nematode' is the last and complete gift one can give when burial is complete - I understand that some highly honoured men have been retrieved from their graves without even a wormhole in their bodies - that alone is a miracle - I am also led to believe that the soul takes some time to evacuate the body and if cremation is the chosen way, then the soul is pitifully wrenched from its source in a drastic and miserable way.Jews should not consider the "convenience" of cremation for a loved one, just follow the rules of Judaism, no matter how simple the burial service given, just offer the sanctity within our beliefs.
July 9, 2013 6:44 PM
Oh my goodness, Lori, thank you so much for posting this video. My mother said exactly as your dear Mom did--and also changed her mind. When I hear the term "Jewish cremation" I think "hitler's ovens."
July 9, 2013 6:38 PM
I am very good impression with this lady's lecture about cremation and suggest that she should travel all over in the USA to spread how important to bury dead instead of cremation according to Jewish law.
July 9, 2013 6:32 PM
Cremation is a choice
Ashes to ashes dust to dust. Cremation is simply a faster way of returning ones remains to dust. The issue of expense is significant for some families but is a side issue. With today's mobile families burying a loved one in a cemetary that is hundreds or thousands of miles away seems cruel. Scattering ones ashes is certainly something that can be done. However having ones ashes in an urn in the family's home seems to bring the departed closer in memory and distance to the living relatives. Ultimately this prohibition against cremation is a rabbinic interpretation of the bible about burying the body. Like any other interpretation this can reread and reinterpreted by the interested reader. No matter how much religious furor is created, cremation is going to be followed by increasing numbers of Jews, for many reasons. I personally find the act of putting a body in a pine box, and putting a pine box into the earth and then shoveling dirt on it repugnant. I had to do this two months ago for my father. I will never allow this to be done to me. I do not want to be in a cemetery with the dead. I do not want my body consumed by insects and bacteria. Sorry but on this aspect of Jewish law I choose to go another way, and so do many others.
July 9, 2013 8:31 PM
It's good there are people like you who share what they really think
You sound sincere in what you are saying and yet I still have a difficulty believing that you are convinced with what you are saying because you believe that you continue (your soul) to exist but you don't know what it is like without abody , the physical pleasures cannot mean the same thing anymore it's a totally different world.
Peace out my friend
July 9, 2013 8:41 PM
Ashes to ashes not in the Torah, Bible, or other holy books
Cremation is against God's laws. Even with that in mind, cremation is not the least expensive method for the family. I have worked as a family counselor for a funeral home and cemetery and assisted families with burial arraignments. Immediate burial without embalming, Jewish coffin, memorial service can be less expensive than cremation.
Cremation is worse for environment because of smoke exhaust and CO2 emissions not unlike any other furnish. Cremated remains have been abandoned at apartments, homes and funeral homes only to be disposed of in a mass grave or at the city landfill.
July 10, 2013 12:57 AM
"I will never allow this to be done to me." With all due respect my friend, when that time comes, what are you going to do about it? YOU will be long gone. All that will be left will be the body G-d loaned you.
July 10, 2013 4:44 AM
I want to be part of the world. Burying an wasting thousands to the death corporation is not continuing life after the physical part of me is gone. I don't want to burden anyone with the assumption that they are OBLIGATED to decorate my grave.
July 10, 2013 1:52 PM
In depending upon your own feelings and opinions as to right and wrong, or pleasant or repugnant, you are placing them above Torah. If you were to learn deeply about Judaism, you would understand that G-d and His laws are more compassionate, more loving, more sensible (as far as we can understand them) than anything we could come up with, and that He knows what He is doing.
Furthermore, say I don't happen to care for the commandment of giving 10% of one's income to charity (less for the impoverished), so "I choose to go another way." Or because I have an angry streak in me I don't care for the commandment of not hauling off and smashing someone who tics me off, so I choose to go another way. I've thus made up a religion of my preferences. A religion of my own preferences is not Judaism.
July 9, 2013 6:24 PM
wanting and doing
I would say what Lori's mother said, that I would rather be cremated and scattered on the beach than buried. However, I would never do this--because it is not a Jewish thing to do and if we are buried simply without embalming and in a simple box or shroud alone the ecological point is pretty even. Sometimes, it is ok to acknowledge that we consciously chose to not do things that we might otherwise do. But it would be good if this were explained to people who keep no other aspects of their tradition. And talking about Jewish specialness does not help.
July 9, 2013 6:00 PM
Image of G-d
Every human being is, body and soul, the image of G-d. The human body has housed a sacred human soul. If we don't burn a book with His name in ut, how much less so a "book" that housed His image? Of course, if someone's religion requires it, we must respect that, and ket Hashem sort things out... But even in that case, it is not simply for "convenient, inexpensive."
Also, Wassin, be a little careful of yohr con ept of "special." We are all soecuL, in different ways. Just as men and women are different- though the differences can be exaggerated too much- so Jewish and no -Jewish are different identities, but all are special and G-d's children, nobody is more or less special, as there can't be more ir kess kf sonething infinite! :-)
July 9, 2013 5:59 PM
it is so important that a book is written about the importance of proper buriel and reeasons not to be cremated. this book needs to be for the Jewish secular population and not be judgmental but be inspirational.. convincing in a spiritual way... not saying what is right or wrong.... that will not speak to the secular audience.
July 9, 2013 5:57 PM
A lot of people missed some salient points here. Jews should not be cremated because we are commanded to have respect for the human body. The body is supposed to retain its integrity as much as possible. This is one of the reasons we don't get piercings or tattoos, and it's why human dissection and organ donation were a question. From the story of human creation in B'reishit - we came from the earth and back to the earth we should go, as Mrs. Palatnik said. Inventing scientific justifications for this is completely unnecessary. Convenience and expense should never be a problem. If someone can't afford a burial or is having other difficulties, then other Jews in their community ought to be helping with this, and if a Jewish community is not doing this, shame on them.At the same time I agree with Mrs Palatnik also that too many Jews don't know what the law says and won't affiliate with a Jewish community, or else those communities are not supportive of Jewish law and tradition. Outreach is important, and a strong, welcoming and supportive community is required in order for outreach to be successful. So if this is a growing trend, then we should be reaching out more, not talking among ourselves.
July 10, 2013 3:09 AM
Ear piercings for women are a common Jewish tradition
It is not correct to say that Jews don't do body piercings. My great-grandmother from Roumania had her ears pierced, as did my nana and my mother. My mom had my ears pierced before she even took me home from the hospital. I have had my daughter's ears pierced. Jewish women from other countries also traditionally had their ears pierced.
July 9, 2013 5:55 PM
Not all Jews are rich. Do you have any idea what it costs to do a burial in Florida? The funeral the lot?
July 9, 2013 8:37 PM
Imagine it's the guys last wish
C'mon just do it
There ain't going o be another chance to do them a favor
And this is the real deal no one is going to thank you or praise you for helping them its all between you and yourself
Be cool my friend
July 9, 2013 5:54 PM
Lori makes an excellent argument, but there's more she can say
Though I am not an Orthodox Jew, I am Conservative, I am against cremation. My family of origin was Reform and my parents chose to be buried because that was the Jewish tradition. My great aunts and great uncle decided to be cremated because we live in NYC and they lived in CA and FL and felt that no one would visit their graves so why bother with the expense?Another argument that Lori could make has to do with the Holocaust. I've read Elie Wiesel's wonderful, mind-shattering book "Night". It sent shivers up my spine. After reading about the Jews in the concentration camps and crematoria, I would dread the idea of having my body cremated. I think that this concept can and should be used as well to dissuade Jews from this practice and it crosses denominations in a way that Halacha perhaps does not, especially regarding Reform or unobservant Jews, because the crematoria was the ultimate degradation!!
July 9, 2013 5:51 PM
Why cremation is forbidden.
This is second hand information, but I do vouch for the source. The reason cremation is forbidden is because when the messiah arrives, the dead will reanimate. In order to reanimate, all the bones must be intact, so to speak. With cremation, although the bones are in a small box, they are broken into hundreds of fragments and reanimation becomes much more complicated. But remember when the Lord gives us certain laws to live, or die, by, we don't always get an explanation from HIM as to why it has to be done. Some explanations come from great Sages throughout history who have commented on the teaching of the Lord. I hope I have not misrepresented my friend nor led anyone astray. If my information is inaccurate, it can at least be an anecdote?Peace be with you.In HIS care...ilana
July 9, 2013 5:31 PM
Why not Jewish cremation
It's for the Day of Resurrection. On the last day, the body is resurrected and appears before HaShem to be judged. Cremation is a gentile concept, not Jewish. It's not our place to change what HaShem has detailed for one in the Torah.
July 9, 2013 5:23 PM
Thoughts on the environmental impact from a member of Chevra Kadisha
For several months, I have been a member of my community's Chevra Kadisha,, the burial society. The very first time I prepared a body for burial, I realized how environmentally sound the Jewish burial is. The body is washed in water, dressed in burial clothes made of natural fibers (e.g. cotton or linen), wrapped in a natural fiber sheet, and placed on a pillow of straw in a wooden coffin that is held together with wooden pegs. All these natural materials will eventually disintegrate.Having been raised non-observant, I am well aware that most non-Jewish funerals have the body embalmed, clothed in the deceased's best clothes, placed on fancy (probably synthetic) pillows, and buried in an ornate coffin that may be partially or fully made of metals. And some cultures practice cremation but then will bury or keep the cremated remains in a metal urn.I'm not criticizing non-Jews for different practices, any more than I would criticize them for eating non-kosher food or celebrating different holidays. But I do think it's important that Jews be aware that the Jewish burial is very much in harmony with nature. The American poet Whitman described grass as "the beautiful uncut hair of graves". I like to think that someday (hopefully many years in the future) grass and flowers will grow above me, unpolluted by chemicals, until eventually I and the container that held me have all crumbled back into the earth.
July 9, 2013 5:14 PM
I am very upset that my brother had our mother cremated without consulting me (years ago-they were in Washington state-I live in Italy-we were born Jewish but my brother became Catholic to marry his Caholic wife, He, too, died 3 years ago at 65 years of age and he, too, was cremated! Ever since I am very worried about their souls, What does our religion say about this? Only my beloved father. at age 64, was buried and THAT makes me happy!
Daisy Harari Mayer,
July 9, 2013 4:58 PM
Hi, here in brasil also the Jewish are beguining to do it. It s horrible you are writh, I born in Egypt end in the suez war against France Ingland and Israel. When a came back to visit no Cairo ect but the Fargo think I went to the cemetery to pay respect tomy grand parents and brother and all the Jewish buried there. Kisses from Rio de Janeiro brasil.
July 9, 2013 4:50 PM
The way you want it is the way it should be!
I have no problem with my dead body being bathed, wrapped in a cloth and cremated, a notice put in the obituary section of the newspaper, a few relatives and friends attending a remembrance service, a tree planted in my name with a small stone at the base with my name and the year that tree was planted and my ashes sprinkled at the base of the tree.
July 9, 2013 4:43 PM
I usually agree with your common-sense ideas, but not this time. I plan to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered at sea. I came from nature and I'll go back to nature. And I strongly condemn any children who do not respect their parent's final wishes.
July 9, 2013 4:41 PM
This is a very important subject and needs much work to convince any one who plans to be cremated
It's like telling a child that candy is not good for his teeth
July 9, 2013 4:23 PM
I love what I learn from the AISH emails and website. As I get older the topic of death and dying comes up a lot more often. I came across this enlightening explanation on cremation from the Hebrew Memorial Chapel in Michigan. I offer it as a more in depth explanation as to why cremation is not an option, both as Jews and as environmentalists. http://www.hebrewmemorial.org/a-perspective-on-cremation
July 9, 2013 4:21 PM
The right way
So --- please tell me --- other than washing the body - what is the right way?Everybody says "no" --- The funeral home won't bury unless it's within 6 hours of dying - there's something about what happens. Most of us can't get a body buried that quickly. Do we embalm like Egyptians taught?
July 9, 2013 4:14 PM
Not Jewish, but Jews want it
It's interesting to note that many Jewish celebrities of old (including Marx bros and many others) were cremated. Don't know why this was. Liberal Hollywood thing?My grandmother was cremated after 90 years. Couldn't stop it, and by time I heard, she was gone. Her non-frum children were in charge, and didn't mind at all. I was told to get someone to say kaddish, and this would also help as an atonement. Really serious stuff...we were given our bodies on loan, and need to return them properly. It's not our choice.
July 9, 2013 4:25 AM
Point taken! But I would change the title...
I agree with Mrs. Palatnik (hard not to do, seeing as this isn't a matter of opinion, and we are both religious Jews), however, I would re-label this video... This video isn't "why the growing trend isn't a good idea." It's "a Jewish take on a growing trend." To say "don't do it" because "it's not the Jewish way" means nothing to non-Jews (indeed, why should it? And while this is a Jewish site, many non-Jews read here - you're welcome!), and very little to Jews who do not lead a Torah lifestyle. If you're making a statement - this is what Jewish law holds - it's not just not a good idea; it is the Jewish standpoint on the issue. I know I'm nit-picking a bit, and I don't really think it's the biggest deal, but the title did pique my curiousity, as, if you are not bound by the laws of the Torah, why SHOULDN'T you cremate if the idea doesn't bother you. It's true - it is cheaper, faster, more efficient, and, if you are very eco-conscious, arguably (and it's definitely arguable, because it is not so black and white that burying is a drain on the earth's resources, at the least) "greener." This isn't a moral issue. It is something G-d forbade the Jewish nation from practicing, for either too many or too complicated (or non-given) reasons to discuss in a comment. You are asking for arguments if you say "this isn't a good idea...because it's not the Jewish way." "Jewish way" sounds too much to me like either modern bagels and lox, or old time shtetl weddings (and I'm not talking about the halachic part).
July 9, 2013 9:28 PM
Cremation is bad for the world
The collateral damage that is an offshoot of cremation would shock Jew and Non-Jew alike. The process causes mercury to enter the environment, a toxic substance. The energy needed to burn the bones is extremely high and is a tremondous strain and inefficient use of natural resources. So even if you do not care about halacha, your concern for other inhabitants of this planet should preclude this choice of disposal of human remains.
July 8, 2013 5:03 PM
This issue needed to be addressed. Far too many Jews do not know that cremation is against Jewish law. Another one is tattoos. People need to understand how Judaism stands on that one, too.
July 8, 2013 2:45 PM
Being Jewish means you are in fact, special, and you're worth it
You're not just a bunch of molecules, you're not just another living organism, you're not just another human being. You're a bunch of Jewish molecules that (a) warrant specific attention and care, (b) have a special relationship with G-d, and (c) need to remain distinguishable from non-Jews in order to preserve Jewish identity (which is the light unto the nations that makes you special in the first place). You couldn't stop being special if you tried, but the secular world is full of poisonous lies that aim to reduce your ego to that of a humble worker ant when each and everyone of you has the right to attack life like the world was created just for you. Beware the corruption of your ego by societal trends. It can lead to assimilation, and the supplantation of alternative purposes to your life. It can change your world-view and it can eventually be used to indirectly enslave you. On the other hand, scientifically speaking, cremation would absolutely remove any possibility of a continuation of life, so I would almost equate it with suicide. It seems to me, death is a most opportune moment to "believe there is more". What have you got to lose? just what might have been had you not decided to interfere with the natural decomposition of a corpse. Don't tell me you want to go through life "believing" (let alone "knowing") only to radically decimate your chances of finding out when you get closer to the end (of this stage at least).
July 9, 2013 5:23 PM
Whats with the "YOU" are??? Like "You people!"...The way you wrote sounds more like orders than kindness. If you are Jewish, why didn't you say "WE"...if you're NOT, it's a mute point----in any event, your communication was WAAAY too harsh to have a positive impact.....
July 7, 2013 11:06 PM
What would really help people out here is not to just say it is wrong, but at least why it is, and where we can find where it tells us that. Backing up words with some facts always helps and gives what you say some credibility. Other wise you are just another person with yet another opinion.
July 7, 2013 5:44 PM
Ever since I was a child I found the concept of cremation repugnant, but I could not articulate the reason I felt that way. Cremation is wrong. Period.
July 7, 2013 4:55 PM
And, the soul leaves the body. Lori, we are not burying the soul. You cannot bury a soul only that which it is being housed in. Look within the body. You don't live and love the body of your mother. You love the soul and that belongs to G-d and returns to G-d when the body gives out. G-d gave us life and the power to think and make choices. No wrong choice but our choice. A good loving and giving life will not be cast away by cremation. We will remember the person because of the deeds they have done for others. Do not stand in judgement Lori, and cast no stones, and let's just say that it is your opinion that you are casting. Shalom
July 7, 2013 11:03 PM
Not my opinion...
Do you think this is my opinion? I would not be so presumptuous as to have an opinion on such an important subject. This is the "opinion" of the Torah.
July 8, 2013 12:42 AM
Burial is the Correct Jewish Practice
Rebbetzin Lori is 100% right as far as classical Judaism is concerned. Somebody who advocates cremation is in effect denying the physical resurrection of the dead (which by the way is also a cardinal Jewish concept - see Chapter Helek in Tractate Sanhedrin - not only as some would believe a Christian concept).
Perhaps Brenda you are coming from a different background than from classical Judaism but Lori is not and so I say again R. Lori is correct.
July 8, 2013 1:47 AM
no judgement is passed
You're right, people have free choice to do what they want, but there is such a thing as making the wrong choice. A platinum, gold, or even silver ring has value, even if the diamond it holds is far more precious. We wouldn't dream of throwing t into the incinerator if we lost the diamond. If G-d said cremation is wrong, it's wrong. And we an choose to make the wrong choice.
July 8, 2013 7:00 AM
Ms. Palatnik is not giving her opinion. Burying the dead is a requirement under Jewish law. Cremation is a sin.
July 9, 2013 4:14 AM
Not a matter of opinion...
Mrs. Palatnik didn't say anything about burying a soul. She said that cremation isn't the Jewish way. More than that, it's forbidden by the Torah. If you aren't Jewish, then you're not bound by the Torah's laws. However, this is a Jewish site. And if you are Jewish, & care about what the Torah says (which you should; and, even if you don't, you are still bound by those laws just by virtue of being Jewish), then you are not allowed to cremate. End of discussion.
G-d gave us life & the power to think & make choices, yes, but those choices must be within the realm of Torah. Otherwise, you could use that same logic to aquit thievery. If there are no wrong choices, then why can't I steal if I want to? You may say "because THAT is wrong," but that's only your opinion. A thief obviously doesn't agree.
In our society, morals have no baseline. Morals are defined by what the "general society" thinks. Which shifts - slowly or not - over time. 30 years ago, who slept together before marriage, had children out of wedlock, led gay and lesbian lifestyles, etc - AND WENT PROUDLY PUBLIC ABOUT IT? No one. Except the rare few whom everyone thought were fools. Because everyone knew, like you know right now that stealing is wrong, that doing those things was immoral and wrong. But now, they aren't wrong in society's eyes - they are just "different lifestyles," and even legal! Who's to say that in 30 years from now, we will become like the ancient Greeks - stealing is fine, even heroic... as long as no one catches you?
When you have a baseline and a guide (the Torah), you don't run into these problems, because we have a path to follow.
I am not labeling cremation as a question of morality. That isn't for me to discuss. However, what I am saying is that, besides for the fact that it is quite simply not ok for a Jew to go against the Torah's laws, once the lines we have been given start being blurred, it is a slippery slope and a dangerous game from there on in.
July 7, 2013 5:33 AM
well said...book on the subject is cremation or burial? A Jewish View by Doron Kornbluth....
Display my name?
Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.