Photo Credit: Jerusalem Burial Society
Hallowed Halls of Eternal Life, the Har Menuchot catacombs.

Jerusalem, a city steeped in history and spirituality, is home to unique burial customs rooted in the Kabbalah, collectively known as “minhagei Yerushalayim.” These rites, predominantly observed by the Orthodox communities of Jerusalem, have garnered widespread respect and adherence, even among those not overtly religious. Illustrating this, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was accorded a traditional Jerusalem burial, including all the customs, and characterized by a simple headstone, displaying only his name and dates of birth and death.

Rabbi Moshe Shimon, CEO of the Jerusalem Burial Society, refers to Ma’avar Yabok as the definitive guide to these burial customs. He highlights one of the most significant practices: the tradition of burying the deceased on the same day, barring Shabbat or festivals. “While exceptions are made for special circumstances, burial is done as promptly as possible, as this greatly reduces the suffering of the deceased,” Rabbi Shimon explains.


The customs extend to the ritual cleansing process of the body in preparation for burial, where instead of the standard nine kavin of water, the deceased is fully immersed in a mikveh. This practice is so integral that the Jerusalem Burial Society maintains a designated mikveh specifically for this purpose.

Another distinctive tradition is the direct burial in the earth without a casket, originating from a verse that implies that the very soil of the Holy Land atones for the deceased. Rabbi Shimon notes that in this respect there is no room for flexibility: “Burial in a coffin is categorically not allowed on Har Hamenuchot in order to ensure equal treatment for all deceased.”

The transport of the deceased in Jerusalem follows a unique tradition involving a bier constructed of metal poles, reminiscent of King Chezkiyahu’s act of atonement for his father, King Achaz. This act, commended by our Sages, brings atonement to the deceased.

In keeping with Jerusalem traditions, children do not accompany the deceased to the cemetery. Moreover, during the burial, members of the burial society perform a ritual encircling of the deceased, reciting special verses and casting coins in various directions. At the end of the funeral, a structured format of consolation is observed, with mourners walking between two rows of participants.

Rabbi Shimon emphasizes the inclusive approach of the Jerusalem Burial Society, emphasizing that no one is compelled to adhere to any specific custom:  “We are committed to accommodating the diverse preferences and needs of families, always within the bounds of Jewish law.”

As one of Israel’s largest burial societies, they offer a broad spectrum of services, providing support and comfort to families in their time of need with empathy and understanding.

For more information on the various services and burial options offered by the Jerusalem Burial Society, please visit


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