Beloved Flower Lover,
While Christian and secular funerals in the west include flowers, wreaths and live plants, both for the viewing and funeral service, these are not present at a Jewish funeral. There is no viewing of the body, and the funeral service itself is brief and solemn, consisting of psalms, prayers and a eulogy. The funeral service may be held at the graveside, synagogue or funeral home.
While sending flowers to the funeral home is a common and thoughtful gesture in many parts of the county, you should not send flowers to a Jewish funeral. Jewish funerals occur within 24 hours of the time of death. Jewish law demands immediate burial. At the most, Jews should be buried within three days of their death. Non-Jews tend to keep their dead for longer periods before burial.
Historically, to offset odor from the decaying body, non-Jews often used flowers and spices. Due to the immediacy of burial in Jewish practice, flowers and spices were not needed at Jewish funerals. Furthermore, the absence of flowers at Jewish funerals became a way to distinguish between Jewish practice and non-Jewish practice. Thus, it became customary to discourage flowers at Jewish funerals.
Despite the custom of flowerless funerals, Jewish Law in no way forbids flowers at funerals. So today there are Jews who do welcome flowers at funerals. And in Israel today, many people place flowers on graves, particularly in military cemeteries.
We offer this guidance as your way to show your deepest respects at this time of deep change.
Peace and joy always
The London Flower Lover