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Question

Is cremation of the dead acceptable under Jewish law? If not, why not, as per "dust to dust and ashes to ashes?

Answer

Cremation is prohibited by Jewish law.

Main Reason
Jews show "kavod" (honor) for the body that housed the spirit and the breath of God.

Another Reason
Too many Jews were burned to death over the centuries - during the Inquistion, in the wooden synagogues and ghettoes of Europe, in Nazi ovens during the Holocaust. It is in appropriate for us to willingly add to the cremation of our people.

Minor Reason
I was told by a funeral director that very often there are "cremains" from a previous cremation added to those given to the mourner, and some of the mourner's "cremains" given to the next mourner. It's not intentional; it is due to the nature of the process and the person hired to work the ovens.

I urge the traditional Jewish funeral. If there are truly financial problems, share them with your Jewish funeral director. I've never seen an honest presentation fail to receive a positive and helpful response.Best Wishes,

Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)

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