Religion can play a part in every aspect of a funeral, depending on the values of the deceased. The religion of the deceased person, and their family, will dictate the types of attire worn at the funeral service.
Jewish funerals are usually held within 24 hours of a death. Most mourning periods will last one year, and include traditions such as sitting shiva. Judaism has specific, practical guidelines for most social events, and funerals are no exception. The attire guests wear at a funeral can vary by family, but tends to follow religious and cultural traditions of Jewish mourning.
A gathering, known as keriah, is a time for mourners to meet at the home of the immediate family members to reflect and show grief. Members of the family will tear garments or a black ribbon attached to their clothing to symbolize their mourning. Sometimes the rabbi will tear a ribbon and mourners will pin the pieces over their hearts. They will wear this through the seven-day shiva.
Everyone, including immediate family members and both Jewish and non-Jewish guests, dress fairly similarly at a funeral. No matter who you are or your relationship to the deceased, you're expected to dress modestly. Unlike Christian funerals where black is the traditional color to wear, this is not the tradition at Jewish funerals. However, guests should shy away from bright colors and try to stick to dark colors like grays, blacks and browns. In terms of footwear, everyone attending the funeral should wear comfortable shoes.
All men, whether they're Jewish or not, must cover their head with a yarmulke while in the synagogue. If you aren't Jewish, don't worry! Yarmulkes will be provided by the synagogue before the funeral service begins. Some synagogues may also ask women to cover their head with a scarf, but this isn't typical.
Hopefully this article has made you feel more confident about what to expect should you attend a Jewish funeral. While the funeral itself may run differently, attire is similar to non-Jewish funerals: formal clothing, conservative outfits and dark colors will serve you well during this time of mourning.
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