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    Burial with tattoos – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is it true that a person who has tattoos can’t have a Jewish funeral?

    A. This is an urban myth that I have been hearing for years.

    It is certainly the case that according to the Torah, a person should not have tattoos made in his or her skin (Lev.19:28), but tattoos do not prevent a Jewish burial.

    When recently asked whether a person with a tattoo could have a Jewish burial, I answered, “Only if they were dead!”

    Obviously an obscene or idolatrous tattoo can be a great embarrassment while the person is still alive and every reasonable means should be sought to remove it. At the very least it should, if retained, be kept covered up by your clothing.

    All this shows how important it is not to get involved with tattoos from the start. In a sense it is a reflection of the verse in the Ten Commandments about visiting the sins of the fathers on the children; in this case it is the actions of a person at one stage in their life affecting them in later years. There’s a good rule of prudence not to do something today that you might regret tomorrow.

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