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As death approaches, confession is heard and the dying person declares "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One".

The dead body is placed on the ground and psalms are recited, especially psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…". The body is then washed and wrapped in a white linen shroud.

The body is placed in an inexpensive wooden coffin or put directly to earth in its shroud. A handful of dust from Israel is placed in the grave or coffin.

The funeral service consists of psalms, speeches praising the deceased, prayers for the repose of the soul, the final recital of the Kaddish, a hymn to praise God.

After the funeral the mourners eat a simple meal prepared by friends or neighbours. In orthodox families the next of kin will tear their upper garments and remain indoors for seven days (the shivah) sitting on low stools.

Mourning can last for one month or one year. These stages of return to normal life of the mourners reflect the soul's gradual progress to the afterlife.

For more information on this subject goto www.Jewish-funerals.org
Contact Paul Meshulem of Chavurat Emek vaYa-ar and Beth Shalom in Wales, England Email contact

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