Noahide Burial

In most states, a Noahide or non-Jew will need to make arrangements with a non-Jewish undertaker or funeral home – since the involvement of a funeral director of some sort is frequently required by state law.

The Jewish funeral homes insist on some level of Jewish involvement, including, e.g., the involvement of a rabbi, and some Jewish community involvement. So they wouldn’t participate at any level in a Noahide funeral, except – possibly – as subcontractors to handle tahara/purification of the corpse. But any undertaker should be able to handle that aspect of the preparation of the body for burial.

Some gentile cemeteries insist on embalming and on using concrete vaults for burial. So you’d have to call around to find a cemetery with no such requirements. (Embalming and vaults are not, usually, required by state law.)

Even when a cemetery insists on having a concrete vault, there are “Orthodox vaults” available, which are open at the bottom. Even though the cemetery may never have heard of an “Ortho vault,” they can still provide a vault that’s “Ortho,” in the sense of being open at the bottom.
(This is a very important feature: if the vault is sealed, or closed at the bottom, there will be no normal, aerobic, “dust to dust, ashes to ashes” decomposition of the body, except after hundreds of years.)
“Green burials” that involve plain wood boxes or simple shrouds, no vaults and no embalming are increasingly popular. These are, basically, Jewish-style burials – except that Jewish burial necessarily involves some simple added procedures: clipping the finger and toe-nails, washing the entire body, dressing in a shroud with no pockets, and guarding the body awaiting burial. But getting those sorts of services performed shouldn’t be that hard.

Jews are buried facing – that is, with toes facing - Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. We want to be ready for the Resurrection of the Dead, which will start from there. A God-fearing Noahide should want the same thing.  This will probably require shopping for a suitable cemetery plot.

It’s entirely possible – do-able – to have a genuinely Noahide burial service. It just takes a little calling around and planning beforehand.

Incidentally, a long-lasting marker, set at the head of the grave, is very appropriate. Jewish gravestones usually give the deceased’s Hebrew name and the date of death (the date of  the upcoming “yahrzeit,” or annual memorial services), plus a phrase or some initials signifying “rest in peace.”

Last Will and Testament of ____________________________
This supersedes any prior wills.
I, _______________________________), being of sound mind and disposing intentions, make this last will and testament.
I ________________________________ as my executor and personal representative.  If he refuses or can’t accept, I appoint ________________________________.
Pay off my just debts, including the costs of my burial, and a funeral - if you/my survivors want one.
Bury my body in a cemetery - ____________________________ - if possible. Do not embalm it, but bury it – after it’s washed, and the lower parts covered with a shroud or sheet – in a simple bio-degradable box or coffin, within two or three days. If you absolutely must use a vault, make it floorless (that is, open to the earth).
Do not put my corpse on display. When you bury it, please lay it out, if possible, facing Jerusalem - in solidarity with the Jewish people and in witness of God.
I bequeath whatever property I leave to be disposed of as determined by my executor, in his sole discretion.
Give charity, to raise me before HaShem; do good things and do them honorably, to raise me with Him and man. I hope you will remember favorably whatever good I’ve done. May God bless you, my executor and all my very beloved survivors.

______________________________ (Signed by the testator/the Noahide making the Last Will and Testament)

_____________________________ (At least two witnesses - who should be younger than the testator and who should, if possible, have their names typed in, and their addresses stated, so they can be found, if need be, if some question arises sometime in the future over the genuineness of the will or the competence of the testator.)



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