Rites of passage: death

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When someone dies, the body is carefully washed, dressed in simple linen and placed in a plain coffin. Jewish tradition prefers that bodies are buried within 24 hours. Some non-orthodox Jews allow cremation, but most Jews bury their dead.

After the funeral, immediate family members return to one of their homes, which becomes the house of mourning (Shiva) for the next week. During that week, the mourners sit on low chairs to symbolise how they have been ‘brought down’. They sit in mourning whilst other members of their family and the community look after them.