It’s a time for celebration, but what happens with funerals and mourning during Purim? Purim, according to Jewish tradition, is a joyous holiday where it is customary to dress up in costume, eat hamantaschen, and give charity. However, when a Jewish person dies just before or during Purim, these rituals are not always followed by mourners.
While family members may choose to celebrate the holiday in some manner, it is still important to incorporate the traditional customs associated with death and mourning. By observing these customs, we remember the person who has died and celebrate their life. If there is any confusion, a Rabbi can provide specific guidance to those experiencing loss at the time.
One thing to make note of, is that there are many nuances and opinions pertaining to this topic. So, there is no true right or wrong concerning observance.
Funerals During Purim
Generally, if an individual dies just before or during Purim, the funeral will still occur as it normally would to satisfy the tradition that burial takes place as soon as possible after the death. There is much disparity surrounding the timing of the burial as it relates to Purim. It is said, that the body may not be buried until after the evening services on Purim. It is also said that eulogies are forbidden. Given that these are both open to interpretation, it will mainly be shiva affected by the holiday.
Shiva During Purim
Mourners typically dress in black, wear a torn piece of clothing, sit on stools low to the floor and abstain from wearing shoes made from leather. However, these practices are not observed in public during Purim.
During a regular shiva, it is customary for people to visit the home of the mourners and offer condolences. Those wishing to offer comfort may still do so, but should not bring Mishloach Manot, the traditional Purim gift of food (even on the following Purim if within the first 12 months of mourning). A mourner, however, is still able to send Mishloach Manot but should include simple foods rather than those associated with celebration such as sweets.
With regards to Purim traditions, it is still appropriate to hear the Megillah (Scroll of Esther). This can be done at home, but if a minyan is not possible, it is permissible for the mourner to attend services at the synagogue. On Purim, it is also customary to gather for a festive meal. While mourners should avoid excessive celebration, they may still participate in the Purim feast but should do so at home.
Ultimately, the customs and rituals associated with death and mourning are personal and should be based on what feels comfortable for the mourners. However, it is important to remember that Purim is a time to celebrate life, not death, and that we should still be surrounded by friends and family during this time.
We are Here for You
Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, is here to provide information and resources to those seeking funeral services and making shiva arrangements. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.