Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families

By InterfaithFamily


Jewish cemeteryMany people come to InterfaithFamily to learn about Jewish death and mourning practices. If you are in an interfaith family, you may be coping with some unusual circumstances around death: you could be going to your first Jewish funeral or house of mourning, and want to know what to expect. You might even be in mourning for a close relative the first time you are exposed to a Jewish funeral. Or you might be planning a funeral for someone who has asked for a Jewish burial, and not be quite sure what that means. You might be a Jew burying a family member who is not Jewish, or vice versa. If you are in an interfaith marriage, you may be trying to figure out in advance how to negotiate being buried next to your spouse with Jewish ritual when you die. We give a brief overview here of some of the most typical Jewish death and mourning rituals and practices, and of some of the issues that may come up for people in interfaith families.

Whatever choices you make around death and mourning, we hope that you find comfort in them.


The Principle of Honoring the Divine Image in the Human Body

Purification on the Borders of Life and Death

Preparing the Body for Burial

Why Don’t Jewish Funerals Have an Open Casket?

Embalming and Cremation

Who Can Be Buried in a Jewish Cemetery?

What Happens at a Jewish Funeral?

Jewish Mourning Customs: An Introduction

Mourning on a Schedule

The First Week of Mourning: Shiva

The First Month of Mourning: Sheloshim

The Year of Mourning: Saying Kaddish

Stone Setting: An American Jewish Custom

Yahrzeit and Yizkor

Planning Your Own Funeral or Someone Else’s

Speaking to Your Children about Death

Recommended Resources on Death and Mourning

The Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families is also available as a downloadable PDF and Word document.


About InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship will provide offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have suggestions, please contact