Can Jews Attend Christian Funerals?

Every religion and culture has different traditions surrounding death and funerals. There are some ‘habits’ of people which are quite acceptable at a funeral for some but are totally offensive to others. While there are offensive differences between Jews and Christians, Jews can and do attend Christian funerals. Here we will have a look at can Jews attend Christian funerals.

In South Africa, particularly, the idea is to be promoting understanding between different faiths, and Jews befriend Christians, and they attend their funerals to say goodbye to them.

There are Differences – Can Jews Attend Christian Funerals

Can Jews Attend Christian FuneralsChristian funeral services are celebratory in nature as it is the persons ‘going home’ to a beautiful place where they will serve Jesus Christ for ever. Usually, a Christian funeral will have prayers, Bible readings and hymns.

There are no rules which dictate how a Christian service should be and they can be celebratory or sombre. Jewish funerals quick – within 24 hours of the person’s death. There are many traditions with a Jewish funeral, and a period of mourning can last for a year.

It is acceptable for Jews to attend a Christian funeral. There are three movements of the Jewish faith and the rules for these 3. Reconstructionist and Conservative – vary with their allowing of  Jews to mourn those who aren’t Jewish. Reformed Jews even deliver a eulogy in a church. The participation level of the Jewish person in a Christian funeral will vary according to these three movements. But Jews may not receive holy communion or kneel during Christian prayers.

Liberal Jews Show Disdain for Extreme Views

There was a time when the rabbinic consensus was that a Jew may not enter a church. Many people look upon this as showing disdain for other faiths. Friendship with people of other faiths is a means of doing away with negative stereotypes. There are Jews who just are at a loss as to how to express their grief to a Christian family.

Today, liberal Jews who have lost non-Jewish friends are quite happy to attend non-Jewish funerals and wakes. They look upon some of the extreme views of some Rabbis as absurd and illogical. As it is, when one does do research, you’ll find that there are differences of opinion when it comes to whether or not Jews can enter a church.

Even Leading Rabbis Disagree among Themselves – Can Jews Attend Christian Funerals

So this kind of conflict is backed up by the example of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein who was invited to participate in the National Prayer Service held some time ago after President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Also, the service was held in an Episcopalian cathedral.

Also, the RCA or Rabbinical Council of America reprimanded the Rabbi for participating in this, saying that going into a church is halakhically prohibited.

So should Jews pursue the strict rules as preached by some Rabbis about keeping out of church or should they make sacrifices for their Christian friends? Each Jew must decide.


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All info was correct at time of publishing