Can a pregnant woman attend a Jewish funeral?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My uncle recently passed away and one of my cousins told me my pregnant wife should not attend the funeral. Is this really a tradition?


Expert Answers

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min., serves as the consultant/specialist for Union for Reform Judaism in North America in congregational programs concerning aging and spirituality and their impact on families. In that capacity he created the award-winning program Sacred Aging for congregations. He has written for numerous publications, some of which are available through www.urjbooksandmusic.com. He founded and edits www.jewishsacredaging.com and writes for other websites such as www.silverplanet.com.

The question of a pregnant woman attending Jewish funeral speaks to a wide range of customs that are still in evidence in our community. This custom is linked to beliefs that somehow the ambiance of the funeral and death will impact the fetus and thus the child. This custom has currency among some communituies and generations. In my practice and experience, I always encouraged the mourner, if possible, to attend a funeral and be part of the "mitzvah" of comforting the bereaved. This custom is not rooted in any rational thought and so, when health and circumstances permit, that pregnant family member should try and attend the funeral of a loved one.