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Can a person with a tattoo be buried in a Jewish cemetery?

Can a person with a tattoo be buried in a Jewish cemetery?



Is it true that if I have a tattoo I cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery? I’m not referring to Holocaust markings.


The Torah1 forbids us from tattooing our bodies. Nonetheless, one who has had tattoos can still buried in a Jewish cemetery.

That said, every Jewish burial society has the right to enact its own criteria for who may and may not be buried in their plot. This stems from people’s desire (or right?) to be buried in proximity to others of their choosing. So while technically there is nothing in Jewish law which prohibits a tattooed person from being interred in a Jewish cemetery, certain burial societies—not the majority of them, or even close—will not bury among their own a person who willingly tattooed him- or herself, as it is a permanent exhibition of violation of Jewish Law.

This practice by certain burial societies led to the common misconception that this ban was an inherent part of Jewish law.

Chani Benjaminson,

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (25)
January 9, 2016
tattoo woes
I really want a small tattoo (like a barely noticeable tattoo) but I know my parent's dislike tattoo's. Another thing that makes this a difficult decision is that I have a pretty strong connection with my jewish faith which makes going against a part of my faith that's voiced pretty often in the jewish community makes me feel really on edge.
Memphis, n
April 16, 2015
To Amir
In that case there is no limitation due to a terrible thing that was beyond their control.
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
April 15, 2015
What about if they are from the holocaust and they have their numbers that were not their choice. What do we do in that case?
Amir Maman
Los Angeles
March 11, 2015
I got a tattoo when I was 21, in the army and a Christian. Years later I converted to Judaism. Who will tell me I have sinned?
June 11, 2014
As a non-Jew I nevertheless have deep forebodings about tattooing. I believe there are strong links with the occult in the practice. Tattooing (body piercing and scarification) in my mind, has links with has links with savagery and even cannibalism. I won't say more because I sound like a nutcase to many of you at this.

I note that as were move further and further from the Christian Era tattooing has became more prevalent in the "civilian" community. About 1/3 of Britons have tattoos these days.
February 1, 2014
Here's a twist
I'm a Breast Cancer survivor. Probably the dreaded gene. After 15 years of starring at one side I had a beautiful tattoo placed on my breast.
They can bury me in a non denominational cemetery with a smile on my face.
January 27, 2013
After I'm dead you can feed me to wild animals for all I care.
jesse kaellis
New Westminster
November 29, 2012
Whoever is Jewish and knows tattooing is forbidden and still gets one is really wrong. Is it so difficult not to get a tattoo? It clearly states in our Torah that you must not do it!
Can't you resist this temptation? I am not observant myself but I think that one can keep at least the basics.
November 28, 2012
judgmental ways of being
I meet a lot of people and they have tattoos. It's not something I would ever want, and I can easily decorate with those washable ones you get for children, if ever I want a rose on my arm or cheek. But those who do, have their personal reasons, and I wouldn't ever judge them for doing what they do. We live in a diverse world. I am against tattoos personally because we Jews were so branded, in those Hitler years. I think it's All G_d and so for me, whatever happens in life, seems to be part of a far far bigger picture, and diversity for sure, is key. Not to bury a Jew in a Jewish cemetery because they "bear" a tattoo, seems incredibly judgmental, as it's the heart and soul of a person anyhow, that this story is all about. Nobody has the right to make such a judgment, and to prevent a burial. That's how I feel and I would take G_d up on that one, if it's forbidden. I believe we're actually here to think about these things, and that's the "crux" of the matter. it's about LOVE.
ruth housman
marshfield, ma
November 28, 2012
a tattoo is only skin deep and will decay when the flesh dies...this may be true but because of our belief
that a person will be resurrected into their previous body then that body has to be whole and unblemished. The body is seen as holy in itself as we do mitzvot with it and it houses our soul. The soul's job is to elevate the body. We do many things to keep the soul together with the body even after death like the seven days of mourning and the anniversary of a person's death. The body is not just rubbish to be cast out. It's very interesting the way Judaism views the body, different from all other religions.