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Following the Casket from the Service

Following the Casket from the Service

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  • Following the memorial service the casket is carried by Jewish men (pallbearers) to the hearse. All the men walk behind it while reciting Psalms. Women follow at a small distance to maintain modesty. Since it is a great mitzva to assist in the burial, the pallbearers may let other Jewish men participate.

  • It is customary that direct descendants of the deceased neither touch nor carry the casket, nor walk behind it. Instead, they proceed directly to the cemetery in their own cars.

  • All males who will be within six feet of the deceased, or going to the cemetery, should tuck in their Tzitzit (four- cornered garment with ritual fringes). The reason for this sensitive custom is that one should not "mock" the deceased with a mitzva that he can no longer perform.

  • Once the casket is placed in the hearse, the car drives slowly away, allowing everyone to follow for about half a block. ck.

  • Those continuing on to the cemetery form a line with their cars behind the hearse. Everyone else remains until the hearse and procession are out of sight.

  • Sometimes the hearse may stop at another location en-route to the cemetery, such as the deceased's synagogue or yeshiva, giving the people there a chance to pay their respects. The casket usually remains in the hearse. The rear door of the hearse is opened, allowing the people to part with the deceased and to request forgiveness (and forgive). The door is closed, and the hearse begins to drive slowly away, and the people walk behind the hearse and say Psalm 91.

  • Afterwards, everyone must wash their hands ritually: Take a large cup of water in the left hand, pour it over the entire right hand, covering up to the wrist. Take the cup in the right hand, and pour it over the entire left hand, covering up to the wrist. Repeat two additional times. It is customary to place the cup upside down after washing, and not to dry one's hands with a towel or paper, so that the memory of the deceased will linger.

  • It is customary to recite Psalm 91 as one leaves a funeral. Some recite it seven times, each time sitting in a different place, to remove the spirit of impurity.

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