Part 6: Jewish burial, mourning, and ritual terms and resources

Resources and Terms
This resource guide is the sixth part to a series of stories on the upcoming Chevre Kadisha Conference in Atlanta. Writer Fran Memberg has worked on the pieces and compiled stories, interviews and useful information on a subject often overlooked, and more often,  unknown in portions of the Jewish community. We hope this series has enlightened and educated our readers. Check with your local synagogue or use the links below to find out more about your area Chevre Kadisha group. Also thank you to Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care for information on Jewish burial by way of literature and interviews.
“The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” by Maurice Lamm
Terms from “Dignity Beyond Death” by Rochel U. Berman
Chevra Kaddisha [Kadisha] “Holy Society” – the group of people who prepare the body for burial; they perform the rite of purification.
Tahara – purification –  refers to the entire ritual of washing, purifying and dressing the deceased. Tahara is also the word used to describe just the purification portion of the procedure.
Shomer; shmira – guard – a person who attends the body of the deceased from the time of death until burial. Shmira is the act of performing this service.
Meit – deceased male
Meitah – deceased female
Neshama – soul
Tachrichim – burial shrouds
Sovev – a large sheet that covers the entire body of the deceased; part of the shroud.
Kittel – a long robe with sleeves and a collar; part of the shroud. It is also used as a ceremonial garment for men on the High Holy Days, by a bridegroom during the wedding ceremony and by the leader of the Passover seder.
Avnet – a sash or belt placed over the kittel and wrapped around the body of the deceased; sometimes referred to as a gartel.
K’tonet – a large shirt with sleeves and no collar; part of the shroud
Michnasayim – trousers that have the pant legs sewn shut at the feet; part of the shroud
Mitznefet – the headdress of the shroud.  It covers the entire face and back of the head.
Chesed shel emes – true act of kindness
T’horah hee (she is pure) or tohor hoo (he is pure) is recited after a certain amount of water is poured over the deceased.

Fran Memberg can be reached at

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