London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Funeral Ceremonies, Fasts, and Customs of the Jews.


THE funeral ceremonies of the Jews are among the things which tend to preserve the distinctness and peculiarity of this people. Sometimes, though now rarely, the nearest relatives of the deceased wear sackcloth (a coarse crape), and throw ashes and dust on their hair, for the term during which the corpse remains unburied, this term being the same as among Christians. When the corpse is carried to the Jews' burial-ground for interment the coffin is frequently opened, and the corpse addressed, in a Hebrew formula, by any relative, friend, or acquaintance who may be present. The words are to the following purport: "If I have done anything that might be offensive— pardon, pardon, pardon." After that the coffin is carried round the burial-ground in a circuit, children chanting the Psalm in its original Hebrew, "a prayer of Moses, the man of God." The passages which the air causes to be most emphatic are these verses:—

3. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

4. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

5. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

6. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

10. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

The coffin is then carried into a tent, and the funeral prayers, in Hebrew, are read. When it has been lowered into the grave, the relatives, and indeed all the attendants at the interment, fill up the grave, shovelling in the earth. In the Jews' burial-ground are no distinctions, no vaults or provisions for aristocratic sepulture. The very rich and the very poor, the outcast woman and the virtuous and prosperous gentlewoman, "grossly familiar, side by side consume." A Jewish funeral is a matter of high solemnity.

The burial fees are for children, and from to for adults. These fees are not the property of the parties officating, but form a portion of the synagogue funds for general purposes, payment of officers, &c. No fees are charged to the relatives of poor Jews.

fasts are rigidly observed by the Jews, and even by those Jews who are usually indifferent to the observances of their religion. These are the Black Fast, in commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the White Fast, in commemoration of the atonement. On each of those occasions the Jews abstain altogether from food for hours, or from sunset to sunset.

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work