christine~ (eppylover) wrote,

Shabbat Shmooz ~ Jewish burial attire

Under Jewish burial customs: the shroud (kittel)

kittelThe body is clothed in a white linen shroud and not street clothes. Shrouds are sewn without knots, and are a multiple piece garment.

In earlier times, the sisterhoods or women's auxiliaries used to make shrouds for their community. This practice may still occur in traditional communities.

Today, virtually all (Jewish) mortuaries carry shrouds, the prices vary. This is done because of a rabbinic decree of around 1800 years ago. People were spending more than they could afford on funeral expenses because no one wanted to show the deceased, typically a parent, less honor than others showed their loved ones. So, Rabban Gamliel, the "prince" of the Jewish community of the time (and therefore his estate would be quite wealthy), demanded that he be buried in simple white linen, and this become the custom for everyone.

He patterned this clothing after that worn by the High Priest in the Temple on Yom Kippur. If G-d asks the High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies and confront the Divine Presence in simple white linen garments, it seems fitting to do the same when preparing someone to meet their Maker.
Brian Epstein's headstone
To this very day, Orthodox and certain other Jewish sects bury men in a yarmulkeh, shirt (kittel), pants, belt -- all of plain white linen, along with his tallis, and simplified (and ritualized) shoes. No pockets, since "you can't take it with you." And the belt isn't knotted, for Kabbalistic reasons.

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