Author Topic: Jewish funeral and pregnancy  (Read 4413 times)

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AreaWoman

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Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« on: March 15, 2013, 03:27:42 PM »
A coworker to whom DH is very close suddenly and unexpectedly passed away last night.  We both would like to attend the funeral, if the family wishes it to be open.  It is likely to be a Jewish funeral (we are not ourselves Jewish), I'm seven months pregnant and I'm not quite sure what to do about proper attire.  Is a dress pretty much required, or does it depend on the congregation?  I don't have any dresses I can fit into, let alone a black dress, and I'm worried about what I can find on pretty short notice for maternity wear.  I do have black maternity pants.  Since the funeral is likely to be Sunday, from what I understand, any advice is much appreciated.

WillyNilly

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 03:35:13 PM »
Do you have others clothes that are appropriate? Such as charcoal grey, navy, or dark brown?  Black is common for funerals, but not required (that I know of). Generally the dress code is simply sober and discreet - so no happy, bright prints or festive colors, etc.

lowspark

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 03:38:13 PM »
Black pants should be fine. You should wear something that would be appropriate to wear to church or to a Christian funeral. Conservative, neat, no jeans or shorts, that sort of thing. Dark if you have it but it doesn't have to be black.

DavidH

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 03:39:07 PM »
In general, most synagogues would expect you to be dressed modestly.  If the person was religious that would mean long sleeves, and below the knee at least for a skirt.  I'm not sure on pants vs. skirt.


lowspark

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 04:08:22 PM »
Jewish funerals do not usually take place at the synagogue. It will likely be at the graveside. In my experience you'll be standing, most likely in a grassy area, for around 20-30 minutes. So in addition to what I said above, you'll want to dress appropriately for the weather and for standing for a while and walking in grass.

amyg

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 04:24:38 PM »
How religious do you think your DH's coworker is? You're probably fine if the funeral is Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist, but if the coworker is Conservadox or Orthodox, be aware that the more religious Jews consider it inappropriate for a pregnant woman to attend a funeral--it's considered bad luck for your baby.

nrb80

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 04:32:50 PM »
How religious do you think your DH's coworker is? You're probably fine if the funeral is Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist, but if the coworker is Conservadox or Orthodox, be aware that the more religious Jews consider it inappropriate for a pregnant woman to attend a funeral--it's considered bad luck for your baby.

I was going to say the same thing.  Also, this is true in many Hindu groups - I was not allowed to participate in my grandmother's funeral (I was 38 weeks pregnant), but was allowed to observe.  If I was not related I would not have pushed to go at all.

If the congregation is not orthodox, I think black pants and a nice, sober top with a jacket or sweater works.

Sterling

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 04:41:25 PM »
Depending on your size you can probably find an inexpensive options at Target or somewhere.  I was a size 14 before getting pregnant and I have been buying knit jersey stuff from there and it is surprisingly accommodating of the baby bump.
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gellchom

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 04:54:23 PM »
I'm a Jewish (Conservative movement) clergy wife.  The others are right, it may be different if this family is very strictly orthodox, but here is my experience.

Your black pants are perfect.  Even if this crowd wouldn't wear pants themselves, they wouldn't consider it disrespectful for someone else, especially a non-Jewish guest, to do so -- as opposed to something inappropriate like a tube top or sequins.  Besides, people are very understanding about the foolishness of going out and buying a maternity dress just to wear to one funeral!  You don't need to be dressed entirely in black or even necessarily in very quiet colors; anything dignified will do.  Like anything you could wear to a courtroom.

You don't need a hat, but your husband will probably be asked to wear a kippah.  If so, they will be provided.  (If it's graveside, he can just wear his hat.)

I've never even heard of the superstition about it being bad luck for a pregnant woman to attend a funeral, and I wouldn't give that another thought.  Even if this group believes that, you won't be offending them, you just might have to endure some repeated, tiresome comments.  As a visibly pregnant woman, you are no doubt already used to that!  (Miss Manners says learning to answer the same silly question over and over is excellent preparation for parenthood.)

Around here, most Jewish funerals are at the Jewish funeral home.  A few are at the synagogue; a few are graveside only.  If the funeral isn't graveside only, you don't have to go to the graveside or to the house afterward -- usually just the family and close friends do that.

AreaWoman

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 05:18:43 PM »
Thanks so much for all of the replies -- I know that DH's coworker was not Orthodox but don't know the level of observance of her family.  Also, she is originally from the east coast and we are on the west coast, so I don't know if that makes a difference beyond the movement to which her family belongs.  (I always assume we are more casual than other parts of the country, being the land of the Summer of Love, hippies and all.)  I just wanted to clarify if that changes anyone's thoughts.  At this point, we don't know if the service will be at a synagogue, funeral home or graveside (but I would guess funeral home).

I also really appreciate your advice, gellchom.  I remembered that a cantor's wife was active on the board and thought about trying to PM you but could not remember your user name!  I blame pregnancy brain...

Tea Drinker

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 07:37:26 PM »
The last Jewish funeral I went to was Orthodox, and nobody blinked at my wearing pants (gray wool); much of the service was outdoors, in north London in March, and several other women also wore pants rather than dresses or skirts.
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lowspark

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 12:07:13 PM »
<snip>

I've never even heard of the superstition about it being bad luck for a pregnant woman to attend a funeral, and I wouldn't give that another thought.  Even if this group believes that, you won't be offending them, you just might have to endure some repeated, tiresome comments.  As a visibly pregnant woman, you are no doubt already used to that!  (Miss Manners says learning to answer the same silly question over and over is excellent preparation for parenthood.)

Around here, most Jewish funerals are at the Jewish funeral home.  A few are at the synagogue; a few are graveside only.  If the funeral isn't graveside only, you don't have to go to the graveside or to the house afterward -- usually just the family and close friends do that.

I'm so relieved to read that, gellchom! I've never heard of it either but that doesn't mean a lot! The fact that you've never heard of it does. I did google it and it seems that it's a superstition that applies only to the woman herself. In other words, if you are a pregnant woman and feel that it would be bad luck to go to a funeral, don't go. As opposed to others imposing it upon pregnant women, as in, "you're pregnant! you can't go!" Although I'm sure that does happen.

Regarding where the funeral will be held, it's also interesting to read what you wrote. Here in Houston, I've only ever been to a funeral in a synagogue once and it wasn't actually a funeral, it was a memorial service. There was no funeral because the deceased had died in a plane crash in a foreign country and there was no body to bury. Other than that, the mulitple Jewish funerals I've been to have all been graveside. Interesting regional differences, eh?

strangetimes

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2013, 04:01:48 PM »
<snip>

I've never even heard of the superstition about it being bad luck for a pregnant woman to attend a funeral, and I wouldn't give that another thought.  Even if this group believes that, you won't be offending them, you just might have to endure some repeated, tiresome comments.  As a visibly pregnant woman, you are no doubt already used to that!  (Miss Manners says learning to answer the same silly question over and over is excellent preparation for parenthood.)

Around here, most Jewish funerals are at the Jewish funeral home.  A few are at the synagogue; a few are graveside only.  If the funeral isn't graveside only, you don't have to go to the graveside or to the house afterward -- usually just the family and close friends do that.

I'm so relieved to read that, gellchom! I've never heard of it either but that doesn't mean a lot! The fact that you've never heard of it does. I did google it and it seems that it's a superstition that applies only to the woman herself. In other words, if you are a pregnant woman and feel that it would be bad luck to go to a funeral, don't go. As opposed to others imposing it upon pregnant women, as in, "you're pregnant! you can't go!" Although I'm sure that does happen.

Regarding where the funeral will be held, it's also interesting to read what you wrote. Here in Houston, I've only ever been to a funeral in a synagogue once and it wasn't actually a funeral, it was a memorial service. There was no funeral because the deceased had died in a plane crash in a foreign country and there was no body to bury. Other than that, the mulitple Jewish funerals I've been to have all been graveside. Interesting regional differences, eh?

I know you probably didn't mean it to come off this way, but I find it a little offensive to call it a superstition. I am orthodox and not only have I heard of it, most people in my community are pretty particular about it. A pregnant woman who is close to one of the mourners might go to the funeral as a support and stand just outside the door, but usually would not enter the actual room with the body, nor would she go to the cemetery.


Calypso

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2013, 05:27:44 PM »
No offense intended, strangetimes, and with respect for your beliefs.....but if something is considered "bad luck" or detrimental to having good fortune....isn't that, by definition, a superstition?

If it's not your custom for a pregnant woman to be in the presence of a dead body, that's fine. The reasons for that could be just that "that's tradition" to "it's bad luck" to any number of things.....but if the action is based on a belief in luck, one way or the other, I don't see how it's offensive to call it a superstition. Calling something "superstition" doesn't mean one is saying it's not real....."super" indicates that it's beyond the realm of the five senses.

At least, that's how I understand it.

amyg

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Re: Jewish funeral and pregnancy
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2013, 06:09:35 PM »
No offense intended, strangetimes, and with respect for your beliefs.....but if something is considered "bad luck" or detrimental to having good fortune....isn't that, by definition, a superstition?

If it's not your custom for a pregnant woman to be in the presence of a dead body, that's fine. The reasons for that could be just that "that's tradition" to "it's bad luck" to any number of things.....but if the action is based on a belief in luck, one way or the other, I don't see how it's offensive to call it a superstition. Calling something "superstition" doesn't mean one is saying it's not real....."super" indicates that it's beyond the realm of the five senses.

At least, that's how I understand it.

Well, I think the blame for that really lies with me. I'm Reform, not Orthodox, and I'm the one who initially called it "bad luck," not strangetimes. I apologize for offending you, strangetimes.