Image: A Jewish cemetery. Note the pebbles left on monuments. Photo by Darelle, via pixabay.com.
“Should I send flowers to a Jewish funeral?”
Many readers search that question, or something like it. The simple answer is: NO. Flowers are not part of Jewish funeral traditions.
Instead of flowers, Jews appreciate a memorial donation to a charity or social justice organization. Often the family will name a particular fund or charity for memorial donations. If there is no charity named, then donate to the organization of your choice. The amount of the donation is unimportant; give according to your means.
Most organizations will mail a card to the family letting them know of the memorial gift. Give them a name and address in addition to the name of the deceased.
Why no flowers?
- First, it is Jewish tradition, going back millennia.
- Second, there is a strong feeling in our tradition that in death people should all be treated equally. Having flowers at the funeral or on the grave would mean that wealthier folk would have a bigger “show” and poorer people would be shamed.
- Third, a donation to a fund that will relieve suffering or make the world better is a more lasting memorial than flowers.
What else can one do to honor the dead?
- Attend the funeral.
- Visit the family at shiva. (See 5 Tips for Shiva Visits)
- Visit the grave and leave a pebble on it as a mark that a visitor was there.
- Attend any events in honor of the dead.
- Call or visit the mourners periodically during the first year of mourning.
For more about Jewish funerals, see Jewish Funeral Etiquette: 10 Tips.
For more about supporting mourners, see Jewish Social Skills: Death & Mourning