Liberal Judaism holds dear the traditional principle of kavod ha'met (honour/dignity in death). It therefore works to insure through its own Burial Scheme and individual Communities, that provision at the end of a person's life is as appropriate and meaningful as it is during life itself.
The Rabbis of Liberal Judaism provide pastoral care for those in the last stages of life and their families. A number of our Communities also offer the support of trained bereavement counsellors.
'Once a death has taken place, people vary considerably in what they require, and in how traditional they want to be. For that reason, in Liberal Judaism it is very much left up to the bereaved family to decide how they wish to hold the funeral and mourn afterwards. Rabbis and congregational leaders will give guidance where it is required, and explain practices at the time, but no-one within Liberal Judaism is compelled to carry out rituals which they do not want to perform. The preponderant practice in Liberal Judaism is to let families and individuals make up their own minds whether they prefer burial or cremation, without any pressure being applied, and people choose both in roughly equal numbers.'
Consistent with its Progressive principles, Liberal Judaism supports families where the deceased has chosen to donate their body for medical research and is currently exploring the issues concerning woodland burials and mixed-faith partners wishing to be buried together.
During all the traditional stages of mourning, a Liberal Jewish Community supports families in their grief and to give comfort wherever possible. This applies to the funeral itself, to the prayers afterwards, and to the weeks and months after that, for the ritual surrounding bereavement is only a beginning, providing the basis of a structure for the expression of grief.
For further published information, see 'Where we stand on Death and Mourning' by Rabbi John D. Rayner and 'Judaism for Today' by Rabbis John D. Rayner and Bernard Hooker, both published by Liberal Judaism.
This article is reproduced from Liberal Judaism