The Funeral, or Levaya

A Jewish funeral is held as quickly as possible after death and usually includes readings, a eulogy, and a special memorial prayer.

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Two customs associated with filling the grave are 1) to use the convex side of the shovel and 2) not to pass the shovel hand to hand, but to replace it in the earth for the next participant, "lest death be contagious."

Another interesting custom is to ask the deceased for forgiveness for any hurt one might have caused her/him. Some also pluck grass from the ground, which they throw behind them as a sign of their renewed awareness of human mortality.

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Dr. Ron Wolfson

Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University and the president of Synagogue 3000.