No tattoos in Jewish cemeteries

The New York Times debunks the myth that "If you get a tattoo, you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery":

The eight rabbinical scholars interviewed for this article, from institutions like the Jewish Theological Seminary and Yeshiva University, said it’s an urban legend, most likely started because a specific cemetery had a policy against tattoos. Jewish parents and grandparents picked up on it and over time, their distaste for tattoos was presented as scriptural doctrine.

But even if the cemetery thing is a myth, some scholars believe that tattooing itself is against Jewish law:

Rabbi Alan Bright, a spokesman for the Jewish Funeral Directors of America, dismissed the cemetery adage as “a load of rubbish,” but he said that tattooing was a no-no. He quotes Deuteronomy 4:15, which commands Jews to take care of their bodies, as evidence. But he noted that Jewish law prohibits many things that secular Jews do without a second thought. “The Torah prohibits anything negative that affects the body,” he said. “Smoking is more of a violation of Jewish law.” As are drinking alcohol in excess and overeating.

Not being Jewish, Jewish law has played little role in the fact that I've never gotten a tattoo. Though I have considered getting a small jackalope tattooed on my ankle.

Body Manipulation Religion

Posted on Fri Jul 18, 2008


Ankle tattoos are for girls. 😛

Make is manly. Have it ripping out of your chest our something. 😉
Posted by Maegan  on  Fri Jul 18, 2008  at  06:24 AM
Hahahaha, what about Leviticus 19:28 "YOU must not put tattoo marking upon yourselves. I am Jehovah." I think that puts a finer point on it. I'm surprised that was not quoted, it's in the Pentateuch and everything!
Posted by Moses  on  Fri Jul 18, 2008  at  07:54 AM
Plenty of tatood jews were buried in the 2nd world war....................get a life and get with the times......
Posted by Pat  on  Fri Jul 18, 2008  at  04:09 PM
The Torah does say it's forbidden to "incise marks on your body," which sounds exactly like tattooing to me, so I don't think there's really much wiggle room as to whether getting tattoos is forbidden to Orthodox Jews. It is.

I agree that the cemetery ban never existed, though. If they couldn't bury anybody who'd ever sinned, cemeteries would go broke, and not just the Jewish ones.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri Jul 18, 2008  at  07:04 PM
Growing up Jewish, I was told often that orthodox cemeteries would not bury anyone with piercings or tattoos, but basically any other Jewish cemetery would. This is one of those things I just believed without question and am very surprised to find is untrue. Anyways, I'm currently in the process of designing my first tattoo.
Posted by Razela  on  Sat Jul 19, 2008  at  12:53 PM
What about Jews who were tattooed against their will during the Holocaust?
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  on  Sun Jul 20, 2008  at  12:11 AM
Lennie Bruce help spread this. He did a routine about coming back from the military with a tatoo. His aunt said that she was upset that he could not be buried in a Jewish Cemetary. He said not to worry. Upon his death his arm would be cut off and buried with the Gentiles.
Posted by wdl  on  Mon Jul 21, 2008  at  03:01 PM
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