"Burial vs. Cremation"

At the heart of the decision is the universal question: What will happen to my body after I die?

It’s one of those awkward, let’s change the subject kind of topics that many of us would rather avoid.
But everyone dies eventually. Exploring your options and having a plan in place for the after-life care
will help you and your loved ones face the inevitable with serenity.
Every Jew, no matter their religious affiliation, has the right to Jewish burial. No one should have to
choose cremation because of financial or logistical considerations. We are here to give you access to
the information, assistance, and resources you need to make an educated decision regarding after-life care.
In the Jewish view, helping a fellow Jew with burial is considered kindness on the highest level, as there is no expectation of a return favor. By choosing burial for yourself, you’re performing a kindness as well.
It’s a kindness for your loved ones, a kindness for the planet, and a kindness for yourself. And it may be the only kindness you can perform after you leave this world.
What is it that compels people to cremate? Sometimes it just seems so much easier and more
affordable than a traditional burial. But the facts are surprising – and important – especially since
cremation is irreversible. Before making a final decision, consider these questions:
What is best for my body and soul?
How does the pricing compare to a simple burial?
Is cremation really better for the environment?
How will my family be impacted by the choice I make?
Does cremation align with my values?

Physically Kinder

To make an informed decision, one must know the facts. In preparation for cremation, medical devices, implants, and prosthetics are cut out of the body so as not to damage the crematorium ovens. The body is subjected to temperatures of up to 2000 degrees for close to two hours until all body tissue has melted, leaving only charred bones. The skeletal remains are then pulverized and collected to place inside an urn. The cremation process is unnatural and violent.
In contrast, Jewish burial is particularly gentle and kind in its treatment. Throughout the entire process, the overarching principle is respect for the deceased. The procedure is carried out quietly, gently, and with great reverence, treating the body as a sacred creation. In preparation for the burial, the body is gently washed, any item with which the person wasn’t born on the outside of the body is removed, such as jewelry, bandages, nail polish, etc.., and then it is dressed in burial shrouds and placed in a wooden casket. The body, which consists of all organic elements, decomposes gradually and becomes one with the earth.

Spiritually Kinder

Many people ask the question, “I won’t even know or feel what happens to my body after I die, so why should I care how it’s treated?” People assume that the end of life is like the flip of a switch. The Jewish view is different. Your body is not your true essence; your soul is, and it lives forever. Yet the soul remains with the body even after the two are separated at death. The soul still feels connected to its body, and is sensitive to how its lifelong partner is being treated. Cremation is not only an act of
violence against the deceased, which pains the soul, it actually severs the connection between body and soul, causing the soul eternal pain. Because the soul remains connected to the body after death, Jews go to great lengths to treat the body with dignity, from the moment of passing until it is gently laid in the ground. Burial allows the soul to find complete peace.

Kinder to the environment

Cremation has been touted as the more environmentally friendly choice. This is a myth.
How can incinerating a body be good for the environment? Burning anything is harmful to the
environment. Cremation requires heavy gas-guzzling machinery and belches lots of toxins into the air.
Traditional Jewish burial is green burial. There is no embalming, makeup, formaldehyde, or other
harmful chemicals. Caskets are made of plain unfinished pine, and the body is dressed in linen shrouds, both of which are organic and will decompose naturally, along the with the body. Everything is biodegradable, and as the body decomposes, it provides nutrients to the earth which nurtured and sustained it throughout its life.

Kinder to our Loved Ones

Once the body is cremated, no trace remains of the life that once lived in it. The 2-5 pounds of ash and pulverized bone that are left don’t even contain DNA; the person they came from has been utterly annihilated. Family members are often surprised at how hard it is to achieve closure after a loved one is cremated. Can you imagine a world where there is nothing left of those who came before us? No resting place for generations past? Not even a stone to mark their name? The people in such a world would be rootless, living without connection to their own history.
Even if it’s not important to you or your loved ones right now, you never know when someone you love will seek comfort and closure at physical place after you’re gone. Should they want to recite a prayer for your soul and connect with you, it’ll be that much more meaningful at your burial site.
Why not leave a little spot on earth to help future generations remember you? With rising interest in
genealogy, having a gravestone to read can help future generations learn about and connect with their history.
Your heritage matters and having a Jewish burial tells the world you are proud of it. Your burial also
creates a historical record of your community for the future.

If you were born a Jew, you deserve to die as a Jew.

For more information, resources, or to speak with an end-of-life counselor to help make an informed decision, please click the ‘Learn More’ button below.
To leave your burial wishes for your next of kin, lawyer or Rabbi, please click  the “To My Children” button below.