THE CEMETERY, Bet qevaròth o Beth hayyìm
ometimes the cemeteries are the only possible way to remember the presence in the past centuries of ancient communities now disappeared. The Jewish concept of the respect of death wants that the dead person is taken with religious solicitude to the cemetery and put on contact with earth.
It is a good action to wash the body of a dead person, accompanying him/her to his/her last travel and to attend his/her burial. After the ritual washing, of which the chevra kaddisha, i.e., the Jewish Brotherhood for burial is in charge for, the corpse (taharat) is wrapped in white cloth, as a symbol of spiritual purity.
After the burial the corpse can not be removed, if not to be buried in Israel.
After the burial, the period of mourning (avelut) begins: the relatives closer to the dead, to underline their grieving expression, cut a piece of their clothing (keriah) and follow the rules of the strictest mourning for a week, during which sit on short stools; during the first thirty days men can not shave or cut their hair.
During the period of mourning the Kaddish, a prayer of exaltation and resignation to God's will, is recited in the memory of the dead person.
In the cemeteries the tombstones are constituted by a simple plaque with essential decorations not to associate the sense of magnificence to the austerity of death. It is a Jewish tradition to bring on the tombstones not flowers, but a little pebble.