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an excerpt from the Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices


Judaism is the religion of the Jews.  There are an estimated 13.5 million Jews in the world, approximately 5.3 million in the United States, 5.8 million in Israel and the remainder dispersed throughout the world, many of them in Eastern Europe.  In the holocaust of World War II, some six million Jews were annihilated in Nazi occupied Europe, as Hitler’s armies sought to “purify” the “Aryan race.”

Early Jewish history is told in the Hebrew bible, beginning with the “Pentateuch” [Five Books of Moses], also known as the “Torah” [written law], which is only complete with the inclusion of other specific holy writings and an oral tradition that was later committed to written form [see Religious Law below].  These documents are a compendium of history, law and ethical teachings.  Beginning with the pre-history of Creation and the fist humans, Torah first focuses on the Patriarchs [founding fathers] and Matriarchs [founding mothers] of the Jews, most notably the first Patriarch Abraham who is said to have made a direct covenant with God that would then extend to all of Abraham’s descendents.  To this day, Jewish prayer invokes the names of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.  In about 1800 BCE*, Abraham and his family settled in Canaan, roughly the same location as the present state of Israel.  In biblical times, these Hebrew speaking people were known as “Israelites” [Children of Israel], from the name given to Abraham‘s grandson Jacob by God, and then during the post-biblical Kingdom of Judah they became known as “Jews.”

Facing famine, the tribal retinue of Jacob and his children entered Egypt, where their descendents became slaves.  In 1312 BCE* [Hebrew calendar year 2448], the Israelites were led out Egypt by Moses on direction from God.  This singular event, termed “The Exodus,” freed the enslaved Israelites and enabled them to re-affirm their covenantal relationship with God, culminating in the receiving of the Torah, symbolized by the first “Ten Commandments”, at Mount Sinai.

Though Moses himself was unable to enter “The Promised Land” [Canaan/Israel], the Israelites re-settled the land in 1272 BCE* and established a centuries long presence there led by selected judges, priests, prophets and kings.  Toward the turn of the millennium, rabbis [scholars; teachers] led the peoples’ search for an understanding of the correct ways to serve God.  By the second century CE*, Judaism as a faith system had become the binding experience for the people, particularly crucial in the aftermath of the 70 CE* Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which had been Judaism’s holiest site and the center of post biblical Jewish life.  In about 500 CE*, the rabbis’ teachings of written and oral law were compiled into the written volumes of the “Talmud”.  Conscious of their covenantal relationship with God, the Jews retained their religious, cultural and communal identity wherever they went and no matter what circumstances they lived, whether they were persecuted or prospered.

The Judaism of today is based mainly on the Talmud and 613 commandments derived from the Torah (by early renowned rabbis), several of which cannot presently be fulfilled without the existence of the holy Temple.  The central tenets of Judaism were well defined in the 12th century CE* by Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon [the “Rambam” or “Maimonides”] in his ‘Thirteen Principles of Faith”, which include a belief in one God and the eventual coming of a Messiah [“Anointed One’].  Judaism’s tenets and practices have been further defined to varying degrees by branches (i.e. denominations) of the faith.

In 1948 CE*, shortly following World War II, the tiny State of Israel was born.  It was intended to create a secure permanent homeland for the Jews.  Israel’s short history has been one of remarkable economic and artistic achievement, and of painful struggle for recognition, identity and survival.

*As are also employed by most historians, the terms BCE [Before Common Era] and CE [Common Era] are generally used by Jews as they do NOT believe that a Messiah has yet been revealed and they, therefore, do not use the Christian terms BC [Before Christ] or AD [Year of Our Lord].


Theology/Major Teachings/Belief


“Judaism” is the term for the religion of the Jewish people.  It is the oldest of the three western monotheistic religions and so is the ancestor of both Islam and Christianity.  At the heart of Judaism is the belief that there exists only one eternal God who is the creator and the ruler of the universe and all that is in it.  God is transcendent and eternal, knowing and seeing everything.  God has revealed His law [Torah] for the Jews, who are to serve as a light and example to the world.  Abraham, the biblical Patriarch was the first to give expression to this faith, and it is through him that the blessing and the inheritance from God to the Jewish people comes, particularly the promise of the land that has a central place in Jewish thought and practice.

The essence of the Jewish faith is contained in the biblical “Shema” that is recited every morning and evening by a devote Jew: “Hear O Israel the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart.”  [Deuteronomy 6:4-6].  In addition to this and other scriptural mandates, Jewish practice incorporates an ever-growing body of rabbinic commentary and interpretation.

Religious Law:  Traditionally, Jewish life is guided by the 613 Godly commandments derived from Torah.  The Talmud (based on oral Torah), and the Code of Jewish law [“Shulchan Aruch”], arranged rabbinic (i.e. scholarly) commentary on religious law, are highly specific about individual and community conduct.

In recent times, some Jewish factions have departed from the traditional role of written and oral Torah as religious law.  Within the following major groupings of Judaism there have developed variations with respect to religious belief and practice, ritual observance, lifestyles, and degree of acculturation:


Orthodox Judaism:  The traditional approach that asserts the divine origin of the Torah, seen as the changeless revelation of God’s eternal will and therefore fully authoritative.  Following “Halachah” [rabbinic defined law] is obligatory and thus of all the branches, Orthodox Judaism places the greatest and strictest demands on its adherents in its concern for preserving religious belief and observing strict religious codes of behavior.  “Hassidim” – sometimes termed “Ultra-Orthodox Jews” – are considered to be the most pious of Orthodox Jews.

Conservative Judaism:  This branch emphasizes the historic development of Judaism, thereby allowing it to make adjustments since it views the basic Jewish theological and ritual concepts as objects of continuing and evolving change.  With Conservative Judaism there is also a strong emphasis on preserving “the People of Israel” and on Zionism.

Reform Judaism:  This most liberal and non-authoritarian of mainstream branches regards Torah as guidance rather than as literal divine revelation, thus ethical concepts are emphasized over ritual law.  Revelation is thought to be a continuing process, so Reform Judaism believes that Judaism is still evolving.

Reconstructionist Judaism:  This smallest and most recent branch follows an approach to Judaism developed by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan who emphasized human values and the centrality of Jewish peoplehood. In practice, it is very close to Conservative Judaism.

In general, however, Judaism remains relatively constant in terms of basic beliefs and practices, and most Jews see themselves as members of the Jewish community rather than only as members of a single branch.

Who is a Jew? Traditionally, Jewish religious law defines a Jew as one who is born of a Jewish mother [see note below] or one who has been properly converted to Judaism.  Stringency of conversion requirements varies from branch to branch, but all mainstream branches are in agreement that mere self-declaration does not constitute conversion.  The basics of the conversion process include rabbinic sponsorship and lengthy study in a formal program that culminates with approval by a rabbinic body/court [“Beis Din”].  Although most prison systems allow inmates to simply designate their own religious status, the Jewish community only recognizes those who meet the preceding criteria as being Jewish.  Furthermore, Jews usually do not proselytize or encourage conversion (as Judaism does not assert that it is the only path to redemption/salvation), and it would be almost impossible for a person to meet conversion requirements while incarcerated.

Consistent with the Patriarch Abraham’s covenant with God, all Jewish males must be ritually circumcised.  Religious law specifies that this be performed when the male is eight days old.  In the case of a convert, ritual circumcision is done along with other required rituals following Beis Din approval.


Note:  Elements of the Reform movement have recently broken with established religious law by affirming patrilineal descent (provided that the child is also raised Jewish through confirmation age), seeking converts, allowing women to practice certain liturgical duties and customs previously reserved for men (e.g. ordaining women as rabbis, women publicly reading from the Torah, and women donning items such as skull caps, prayer shawls, and phylacteries, etc.).

Mainstream Judaism does not recognize “Messianic Judaism’ (i.e. “Christian Jews”, “Jews for Jesus”, etc.) or the “Hebrew Israelite,” “Black Hebrew”, “Yahweh Ben Yahweh” sects or similar groups as being bona fide branches of Judaism.



Private:  A devout Jew is required to pray three times a day – morning, afternoon, and evening. Although preferably with a quorum [Minyan] of at least ten adult Jewish men in a synagogue setting (if one is available), prayers can alternately be recited individually at home or wherever else one may be located.  An additional morning worship service is included on the Sabbath and Festivals, along with special prayers for specific holy days.  Hebrew or Hebrew/English (or Hebrew/other local language) books containing structured liturgies are used during prayers.  For all male Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and some Reform Jews the head is covered during prayer with a skull cap [yarmulke] or ordinary hat.  Note: most Orthodox men will cover their heads at all times as a sign of reverence to G-d.  During morning prayers, a prayer shawl [Tallit] which as fringes at the four corners (in obedience to a command found in the Torah), is worn by adult males.  On non-Sabbath/Festival days, two small leather phylacteries [Tefillin] boxes are attached to the forehead and arm with leather straps by adult Orthodox males and by some adherents of other branches.  The boxes contain four passages of Hebrew scripture written on parchment, Exodus 13:1 – 10 and 13:11–16, Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and 11:13-21.  Although these items may be visually inspected (if handled with respect and care), only a qualified rabbi or scribe may open the sinew closed portions of the boxes.  Also, whenever possible, a Jewish inmate should not be required to pray in a room/cell that contains either a toilet or symbols of any other religions.

Jews also affix a “Mezuzah”, a small parchment scroll (on which is written the opening paragraphs of the Shema which prescribes this practice) within a protective container to the upper right-hand corner of the doorpost of the front door of their home and synagogues.  In the homes of more observant Jews, Mezuzahs are also placed on the doorposts of every other living room (except bathrooms).  Though inmates may request a Mezuzah for their living area and/or chapel, a prison is not considered an appropriate place to post a Mezuzah.

Corporate:  Although a Minyan is required to conduct a complete Jewish worship service, a lesser number of Jewish males and females can conduct corporate prayer with certain proscribed sections of the service being omitted. Those who are not properly Jewish cannot serve in a Minyan.  Likewise, non-Jews should not utter some particular Jewish blessings or participate in certain Jewish liturgical functions.  The Pentateuch is divided into weekly portions which are publicly read throughout the Jewish calendar year in synagogues each Sabbath from a Hebrew hand-scribed parchment scroll.  Parts of these are further publicly read each Monday and Thursday morning.  Related sections of the writings of the Prophets are also publicly read on the Sabbath.  Specified other holy writings are publicly read on various holy days.  A specially trained person is required to accomplish these readings (which can only be done from proper scrolls) and certain difficult conditions would have to be met in order for such readings to be done in a prison setting.


The Sabbath, Festivals and Other Holy Days


Observant Jews are not permitted to work or engage in various other ‘weekday’ activities on the Sabbath, which is devoted to worship and other related ceremonies. Biblically mandated festivals generally follow the same rules as the Sabbath, with the addition of particular observances and customs.  Post biblical holy days are generally not as restrictive and have their own observances and customs.  The celebration of these events should be part of a shared religious experience by as many Jewish inmates as possible, so corporate worship and other joint activities are encouraged.  Prayer books and other religious materials needed for these events may be obtained from national and/or local Jewish chaplaincies, local synagogues and/or Jewish communities.  See the diet section [below] for special dietary requirements.

Basic observances/customs for the Sabbath, Festivals and Holy Days are as follows:

The Sabbath


“Shabbas/Shabbat” is a weekly day devoted to God through religious activities and it is considered to be the most important of all Jewish holy days.  The beginning of the Sabbath just prior to sundown each Friday is marked by the lighting of candles, a minimum of two per household which must be capable of burning for at least one half hour and which must be allowed to burn out by themselves.  A special prayer must be recited over the candle lighting by somebody who is properly Jewish.  Similarly, following Friday evening and Saturday morning worship services, a special prayer [Kiddush] is recited over wine by somebody who is properly Jewish.  Note:  it is permissible to use grape juice as substitute for wine, provided that the grape juice meets religious dietary (i.e. kosher) standards.  It is also traditional to say a prayer over and eat special bread [Challah] before meals on the Sabbath.  Note: Kosher unleavened bread [Matzah] may be substituted for Challah. The end of the Sabbath at approximately one hour past sundown each Saturday is marked with a special service [Havdallah], during which candles, wine (or grape juice) and spices are used.  Note:  as Jews are not permitted to work on their Sabbath and certain Festivals, it is appropriate to request that Jewish inmates work as substitutes for other inmates on non-Jewish holidays.

The following Festivals, specific dates of which are delineated in Torah, and other rabbinic mandated holidays are in sequential order as they occur through the Jewish calendar year that begins in early autumn:

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur


The two day Jewish New Year [Rosh Hashanah] is a period of religious self examination and resolution.  A ram’s horn [Shofar] is blown as a call to look into one’s soul and improve one’s ways.  It is customary at the meal on the eves of Rosh Hashanah to eat apple dipped in honey and to wish others a good and sweet year.  A new fruit, usually pomegranate, a sweet carrot dish [tizimmes], honey cake, round Challah bread and other foods are also traditional.  Another custom is to send greeting cards to one’s relatives and friends.

The ten days beginning with Rosh Hashanah are considered to be “Days of Awe” and repentance, culminating with the Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur] which is considered to be the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar as it is believed that this is when God decrees each Jew’s fate for the remainder of the year. It is a day spent praying and fasting during which white garments are worn, a special fifth worship services is added, and it concludes with the Shofar being blown.  Note: Prior to the beginning of the approximately 25-hour fast, it is traditional to eat a hearty meal that includes boiled pieces of dough filled with meat [Kreplach].



“Succoth/Sukkot/Sukkos/” is an eight day period of rejoicing on which temporary booths covered with branches are built on porches, terraces, roofs or yards. Observant Jews eat all their meals and may sleep within these small huts.  Four species of plants, the citron [Esrog], palm branch [Lulav], myrtles [Hadassim] and willow [Aravos] as enumerated in the Torah are bound together and used individually by Jews during services in synagogue and the booths. These items may be obtained for Jewish inmates from Jewish chaplaincy organizations.

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah


The “Shemi Atzeret” holiday corresponds to the final day of Succoth, but is a separate and complete holy day in itself that is usually marked by a festive meal. On the following day of  “Simchat Torah”, the annual reading of the entire Pentateuch and initiation of the next year’s reading is joyfully conducted, most notably by dancing with Torah scrolls in synagogue.



This post-biblical eight day celebration commemorates the recapture of the Holy Temple in 165 B.C.E from Assyrian- Greek oppressors.  In preparation for rededication of the temple, which had been spoiled by the enemy, only one small jar of acceptable oil was found with which to rekindle the temples candelabra [Menorah].  This single day’s supply lasted for the entire days required to prepare acceptably pure olive oil to burn.  In honor of this miracle, Jews light candles on each of the evening of Chanukah, beginning with one candle on the first evening, two in the second evening, etc.  Each evening an additional candle is used to light the others, requiring a total of 44 candles for the entire holiday.  Children are often given gifts of coins and they play a traditional game with a spinning top [Dreidel].  Because of the significance of oil in the Chanukah miracle it is also customary to eat potato pancakes fried in oil [Latkes] and/or jelly filled donuts [Sufganiyot] during the holiday.



This day commemorates the saving from massacre of the Jewish community under Persian rule in 450 B.C.E., as recalled in the Book of Esther that is publicly read on this day with much flourish.  This is a particularly joyous holiday during which gifts of food and charity are given.  A festival meal is required and it is traditional to eat pastries [Hamantash] shaped in the triangular form of the hat of the villain in the Purim story.



The Passover [Pesach] Festival recalls the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt during biblical times.  It lasts for eight days beginning with “Seder” ceremonies on the first two evenings during which the deliverance from Egypt is recounted from a special book [Haggadah].  Certain ceremonial items are consumed, including unleavened bread [Matzah], bitter herbs and four cups of wine or grape juice.  No products containing any leavening can be consumed during this period, and many Jews also refrain from eating other foods (such as legumes and rice).  The Seders are required to be particularly festive and they are often the highlight of the year for Jewish inmates.  Even Jewish inmates who do not maintain a religious (i.e. kosher) diet during the rest of the year will follow the special Passover diet.  It is also very important that Jewish dietary authorities be consulted regarding currently certified Passover foods.

Lag B’Omer


This holiday occurs during the 49 days “Omer” counting to mark the time between the Exodus from Egypt and the revelation of Torah.  On the 33rd day [Lag B’Omer], Jews commemorate the ending of an epidemic that befell students of the great scholar Rabbi Akiva and the anniversary of the great sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.



The two-day Festival of Shavuot commemorates God’s gift of Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai, at which time they formally became a nation.  It is customary for adult males (i.e. those over the age of 13) to stay up all night and study the Torah.  Consuming a dairy meal is also traditional.

Tisha B’Av


The 9th day of the month of Av [Tisha B’Av] is the final day of three weeks of mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple on the same date in 587 B.C.E. and 70 C.E. Though it is not a biblically mandated Festival, work is discouraged during this 25-hour fast day.

Holy Books


Torah [Pentateuch ‘bible’]; Nevi’im (21 books of Prophets); Ketuvim (13 books of Writings, including Psalms)  Note: A single text containing all of the previous is called a “Tanach”, and a single text containing the Pentateuch and selections from Prophets is called a “Chumash”.

As is previously noted, prayer books containing liturgies for the Sabbath, various Festivals and Holy Days are necessary for worship.  Although abridged forms of all liturgies can be found in some ‘complete’ single texts, these are not necessarily adequate for some observances.


Jewish Calendar Dates for Festivals and Holy Days


The Jewish calendar is a lunar one, as opposed to the solar or Gregorian calendar used by most of the world.  Published calendars that list both Gregorian and Jewish dates (with designated Jewish religious observance dates noted) are readily available from Jewish chaplaincies, most synagogues and other Jewish community organizations.  Charts of dates for several years ahead are also available for planning purposes from Jewish chaplaincies.  Like the Sabbath, all Jewish Festivals and Holy Days begin at or just prior to sundown and they end at or shortly following sundown, precise times for which are usually listed on Jewish calendars.


Work Proscription Days


Jews are not permitted to work entirely or engage in various other ‘weekday’ pursuits on the weekly Sabbaths, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first two day and the last two days of Sukkoth (including Shemi Atzeret), Simchat Torah, Purim, the first two days and last two days of Pesach, Shavuot, and prior to midday on Tisha B’Av.

Fast Days


In addition to the full fast days (from before sunset to after the following sunset) on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, the following daytime fasts (from daybreak through nightfall) occur annually:

Fast of Gedaliah on 3rd of Tishrei, Fast of 10th of Tevet on 10th of Tevet 10th, Fast of Esther on 13th of Adar, Fast of Firstborn (for first born males of Jewish families only) on 14th of Nissan, Fast of 17th of Tammuz on 17th of Tammuz, and Fast of Gedaliah on 3rd of Tishrei. As these dates are occasionally rescheduled (primarily due to conflicts with the Sabbath), consult a Jewish calendar for precise dates and times.  Jewish fasts prohibit both food and water, but not prescription medications.  Also, person with physical ailments that would be aggravated by fasting, males under age 13, females under age 12, and pregnant or nursing women are all excused from fasting.

Any Jewish inmate, whether or not participating in a regular Jewish religious and/or Passover diet program must be permitted to fast on religiously prescribed fast days.

Fasting Jewish inmates must be provided with extra nourishment via two fast bags for each fast, one to consume prior to the fast and the other to consume following the fast.

Jewish Dietary Restrictions


Jewish dietary law [Kashruth] is an important aspect of religious observance for all Orthodox, many Conservative, and some Reform and Reconstructionist Jews.  Foods that are fit [kosher] for consumption by Jews and the manners in which they are handled are specified in the Torah and further defined through rabbinic law.  These dietary laws are extremely complex, so only qualified kosher supervisory personnel should be allowed to make decisions regarding kosher diets.

Basically, kosher foods are divided into three categories; meat, milk, and “pareve” (i.e. neutral).  Meat and milk products cannot be cooked, served, or eaten together.  They not only require separate cooking, serving and storage utensils from non-kosher foods, but also from each other kosher category.

Milk products (e.g. liquid, milk or cream, cottage cheese, cheeses) are considered kosher if proper supervision has been approved to insure there is no contact with any meat product (e.g. meat sourced rennet used in the production of many cheeses) or milk from prohibited animals.  Milk products may not be eaten with or immediately after meat products. An interval of time, usually a minimum of three hours (depending on the custom of the community) must elapse between consuming meat and then milk.

Meat of only kosher animals and fowl is permitted.  Kosher animals, as specified in Torah scripture, are those that both chew their cud and have split hooves (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, etc.).  Kosher fowl are primarily those which are not birds of prey (e.g., chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys) and fowl is treated as meat.  All of these must be slaughtered and dressed in prescribed manners (by qualified butchers) to be considered kosher.  Meat may be eaten following a short interval after eating most soft milk products (or the pallet is cleaned by consuming something that is pareve).  However, aged chesses require the same time interval as applies for meat to milk.

Pareve products consist of all neutral substances such as fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, etc.  Pareve products may be cooked and eaten together with either meat or milk products.

Fish are considered pareve, but they must have both fins and scales to be kosher.  Therefore, shellfish, catfish, shark, most bottom feeders, etc. are prohibited. Fish do not have to be slaughtered or dressed in a prescribed manner and generally may be consumed together with milk or meat products at the same meal.

There are several organizations that supervise the production of kosher food products.  These organizations can usually be identified by their unique registered symbols that are prominently placed on labels of products that they have certified as being kosher.  As the reliability of supervision varies from one organization to another, it is best to only use products that meet an Orthodox Jewish degree of approval, as this will cover the requirement of all inmates on a religious diet program.  Kosher foods are easily obtained through various retail outlets and kosher purveyors.  NOTE: A plain letter ‘K’ on a package is not assurance of kosher status as it usually merely means that the manufacturer itself is claiming the product to be kosher.

A qualified kosher food supervisor should always be consulted regarding any questions pertaining to certification and/or handling of foods served to Jewish inmates on a religious diet program. Contact with kosher food supervisors can usually be made through the Department of Corrections Religious Programs office or through various Jewish community organizations such as synagogues and Jewish chaplaincy programs.




Rabbis are ordained spiritual leaders in Judaism.  However, as there are no sacraments in Judaism there is no liturgical distinction between clergy and laity.  Thus a trained lay person may lead a prayer service.

Cantors are persons specifically trained in prescribed ritual for public worship. Many lay persons are also trained in specific aspects of Jewish religious practice such as liturgical reading, kosher slaughtering, dietary supervision, ritual circumcision, etc.

Death and Burial Practices


Any Jewish inmate who is at immediate risk of dying should be allowed the opportunity of a form of religious confession to be performed with a Jewish religious authority.  Therefore, in any case involving a Jewish inmate who is seriously injured, terminally ill or about to be executed, a rabbi or Jewish chaplain should be contacted as soon as possible in order that appropriate arrangements can be made.


Cremation, embalming and other defilements of the body are prohibited in Judaism.  Autopsies are only permitted as required by law. Also, be aware that a medical examiner/coroner has the authority to release a body without conducting an autopsy under most non-homicide circumstances if a doctor signed death certificate listing cause of death is provided. In any case, any autopsy plan should be delayed until consultation with a Jewish authority such as a rabbi or rabbinic board endorsed chaplain.

Burial requirements for Jews are quite specific, but the basics are:

  1. As soon as possible following death and through to burial, the body should be guarded by somebody of the same gender who is Jewish;
  2. With rare exceptions (such as the Sabbath, certain religious holidays or awaiting arrival of dignitaries), burial must be accomplished by sundown of the following day;
  3. The body must be properly washed and dressed in prescribed burial attire by Jewish community members who are certified in those procedures, and other Jews cannot touch the body;
  4. A plain wooden coffin held together with wooden pegs (i.e. no nails/screws) must be used;
  5. Burial must be in Jewish owned ground (e.g. a Jewish cemetery);
  6. The burial service has its own specific liturgy and procedures that must be conducted by somebody who is Jewish and qualified to perform them, preferably a rabbi; and
  7. Periods of mourning also have specific requirements.

Generally, the best way to handle the death of somebody who is actually Jewish is to immediately contact a Jewish chaplain or local synagogue.  In circumstances where a Jewish authority is not immediately available, most Jewish burial societies have 24-hour arrangements in place – even to cover the Sabbath, religious holidays, etc. – so an emergency telephone number will usually be provided in a synagogue telephone voicemail message.



Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices; Religions By: Myrtle Langley; Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices By: US Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prison, Jewish Prisoner Services International, Chaplain Gary Friedman