Top 10 Reasons For Choosing Burial


1. Burial Is Better For The Environment

Environmentalists have great concerns about modern burials - but almost all of their critiques center on the effects of embalming and the use of metal caskets. Because cremation releases mercury and other to xins in to the air and uses an enormous amount of fossil fuels, it is not the choice of environmentalists. Rather, environmentalists worldwide choose 'green burial' (with no embalming or metal caskets). Interestingly, burial uses very little land, and there is a surprising amount of land available. If ALL Americans were buried, it would take 10,000 years to use up just 1% of America's land - and presumably few cemeteries would exist that long, anyway. Furthermore, Jews constitute only 1.5% of the population! The point is that there is PLENTY of land available, most of it within 1-2 hours of urban centers.

2. Burial Leads To Closure While Cremation (Often) Leads To Regrets

While no statistics are available, tremendous anecdotal evidence shows that many people later regret their decision to cremate their loved ones. Usually the decision was made in haste in the midst of grief, or based on misleading advertising. Closure is missing, and it hurts. Burial brings no such regrets. The family says their good-byes, escorts the casket to the cemetery and often participates in the burial. They feel the body of their loved one has found a permanent place of rest, the soul has returned to its Maker, and the mourners know in their hearts that they have done the right thing. They know when they come back to visit, they will be visiting their loved one.

3. Burial Shows Respect For Our Loved Ones

In burying the body, we show it care and concern. Rather than trying to quickly burn and get rid of it, we calmly demonstrate our gratitude and respect for the body that housed the soul and enabled it to live – and love – in this world. By burying our deceased loved ones, we show our love and respect for their bodies – and thus their lives.

4. Burial Is The Monotheistic Choice

It is an undisputed historic fact that burial is much more common in monotheistic societies while cremation rates are higher in pagan, polytheistic, and 'post-Christian' communities. By choosing burial, we are joining with those who believe in God.

5. Burial Connects Us To Jewish Tradition

For more than 3000 years, Jews have avoided cremation – and chosen burial – although both options (and many others) existed. When Roman historian Tacitus described the Jews, he noted that Jews "bury rather than burn" the dead. The Bible itself talks about burial often, including that of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. G-d himself buried Moshe. Burial respects and honors the body which housed the soul. Burial is a commandment while cremation is a severe Jewish transgression. No matter how religious you are or aren't, choosing burial means declaring, "I was born a Jew and I will die as a Jew."

6. We Burn Bad things, Not Good Ones

Historically, when you detest something and want to completely eradicate it, you burn it. This is why the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was, sadly, burned (twice), and ancient cities were burned to the ground by their conquerors. Ironically, not too long ago, cremation and the scattering of ashes were done as a punishment to the worst criminals – showing that their memory and impact was gone forever. From Abraham to the Holocaust, our enemies have not only wanted us to disappear – but to deny our very existence, via consuming fire.
Compare that to burial. Children lovingly bury their pets in the backyard when they pass away – they don't burn them. We bury things we love. In Jewish thought, the body is considered holy and created in the image of God. For this reason, Jews go to great lengths to bury Torah scrolls, and other holy objects – including human bodies.

7. Burial Is Natural. Cremation Is Artificial, Disgusting, And Violent

While it seems quick and clean to push the cremation button, the reality behind the oven door is otherwise. A body burns for approximately two hours, with larger bodies taking even longer. Body fluids bubble, muscles expand and contract, and the brain sizzles. What is left is not ashes but burned and dehydrated bones, which are then removed by a simple crematory worker – and then ground up, pulverized to dust –"ash", in a machine, to fit neatly into an urn.
Compare that to burial. While decomposition isn't pretty, it is the way of all living things. Burial respects the cycle of nature, and our bodies give back, to the Earth that gave so much to us. Burial is calm, natural, and respectful. Cremation is a loud, disgusting, and violent procedure to the bodies of our loved ones.

8. Burial Has Meaning And Permanence

If ashes are scattered, there is no physical memorial to the dead. If ashes are kept, other problems develop: How long will you keep the urn? Will you take it with you when you move? Will the grandkids keep it? Eventually urns are thrown out, scattered, or forgotten. Even if ashes are buried, whose ashes are they? One person's ashes are indistinguishable from another's and there are endless media reports of mistakes and malfeasance.
Burial provides a permanent resting place for the body, and a solemn and meaningful memorial for the eternal soul. In many families, a child or grandchild may eventually find comfort in visiting the gravesites of family members. With burial, this is possible and the soul has a permanent resting place. "The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to G-d who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

9. Healthy Societies Remember And Respect The Dead

There is trend in Western society to banish death. Shortened funeral services. Flattened not-so-visible tombstones. Or, cremate and scatter the remains so no one has to visit the cemetery at all. Often, cremation is an attempt to 'get it over with.'
It is an unhealthy trend. Death is a part of the life cycle. It should not be ignored or denied. Burial represents a calm acceptance of death, replete with the symbolism of an eventual rebirth. Cemeteries are important for healthy societies to keep the memory of those passed strong, connected to us and to each other, and reminding us of our own mortality.

10. Burial Is Worth The Money

Cremation usually costs less than burial. That being said, through early planning ("pre-need" payments in installments) burials are quite affordable, and in a pinch the community, chevra kadisha, funeral home, and family members can usually get costs down and/or help make up the difference.
Even when burial does cost more, finances alone should not dictate our choices. Important life events, milestones, and remembrances are not the time to go cheap. Burial is worth it. It provides meaning and permanence. It comforts mourners, descendants, and the soul. It is the choice of Monotheism – and Judaism. It is logical and safe. It is the right choice.