More Jews Opt for Cremation, R”L


cremation-burial-graveJews are increasingly choosing to be cremated, funeral professionals say, despite Jewish law and thousands of years of tradition.

The numbers are still small, relative to the non-Jewish community. But they bring with them considerable angst.

According to Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, a  Conservative rabbi in New York City, family members increasingly struggle with the wrenching question of whether to go against the wishes of dead Jews who have asked to be cremated.

“I personally think that as a matter of Jewish law and tradition, that while it is good to honor the request of your dying loved ones, that it is forbidden to cremate a body, and that people are not obliged to follow those requests,” said Kalmanofsky, who leads Congregation Ansche Chesed in Manhattan.

Some congregants follow Kalmanofsky’s advice and betray their parent’s wishes, burying them instead of cremating them.

“I try not to push this button in a manipulative way, but after the Shoah, I think the thought of burning bodies is just unbearable – unbearable to me, at any rate,” Kalmanofsky said.

Cremation remains taboo among most Jews, even in the non-Orthodox denominations. No hard numbers on the practice exist. And conversations with Jewish funeral professionals from across the country suggest that the proportion of Jews who choose cremation varies widely by city.


{ Newscenter}


  1. Jews who want to be cremated over a normal burial are like a totem pole that wants to be chopped down and thrown off the reservation.

  2. By the Akeida, it says that Avrohom Oveinu planned to bring Yitzchok for a Korban Oileh, and like all other Oilois, burn his whole body after Zrikas Hadam.
    Is that like Cremation? Who Knows?

  3. We should boycott the Jewish funeral homes who offer cremation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It blows my mind that we protest against so many things, yet we don’t protests against funeral homes who perform cremations.

  4. Can you blame a tinook shnishba? Cremation is the norm in the goyisher velt.

    We are obligated to strengthen our connection to Hashem and work harder to bring our yiddisher mishpacha closer to Hashem.

  5. Unfortunately many are so far removed(from yiddiskeit) in life that they do not realize that this is prohibited.

    Also financially the costs are cheaper.

    Perhaps an organization (Misaskim or others)can raise funds to deal with this issue.

  6. “like a totem pole that wants to be chopped down and thrown off the reservation.”

    Since when has a carved and painted tree trunk ever had the power to think for itself and to communicate its “wants”?

    You might be “Beethoven’s friend”, but you certainly have not got even a single percentage of his brains.

  7. Ban Azal, you are missing the forest through the trees. Clearly a decorated member of their society always has its place its hold.

  8. meir and benazai. You have no alliterative incursion likely because you have a lapsed education without intellectual pursuits.

  9. Every person has the right to live and die the way they wish and nobody can tell them otherwise. Hence, “free country”.

  10. number four – I just had the same discussion a few days ago. Our family has a distant non frum relative who cremated her/his parent. They maintained tinok shenishba and therefore person can’t be judged and try to be mekarev, etc. I maintained the person did it knowing full well it was wrong and it was like eating pig. If person does it, even to save money, there is no excuse. They know better and are only doing it because they are anti-frum or at best just couldn’t care less.But they know better. However, this person was American reform. I think the article should make a distinction for immigrant russians, etc. They may actually fit the Tinok Shenishba description. I asked a Rov who agreed. He also asked me how it was nogeya. I told him it was not a matter of picking fights but rather of whether or not the person was Bclal Amisecha and how to interact in family situations. He said I do not have to engage them or treat them like they were simply tinok shenishbaa.