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Using the question-and-answer format that he employed in his popular Jewish Book of Why, Second Jewish Book of Why, in this volume Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch explores, explains, and analyzes the reasons behind the multitude of Jewish laws, observances, customs, ceremonies, and traditions relating to death and mourning. Among the questions addressed are:
* Why was the practice of tearing a garment (Keria) instituted?
* Why are coffins commonly fashioned from raw pine wood?
* Why does Jewish law require speedy burial?
* Why may Kaddish be recited only in the presence of a minyan (religious quorum)?
* Why do mourner's sit on low stools during the seven-day Shiva period?
* Why is Yahrzeit generally observed on the anniversary of the date of death?
The answers that Rabbi Kolatch offers to the hundreds of questions presented in this volume are concise, straightforward, and unbiased, reflecting the attitudes, customs, and practices of Jews of all denominations.

The Jewish Mourner's Book of Why features a selection of readings that will bring comfort to the bereaved. The useful appendices include an unveiling service that can be conducted by a family member; the various forms of the Kaddish prayer in Hebrew, in transliteration, and in English translation; as well as a Yizkor service for those who are homebound. Also included are detailed notes, bibliography, and index.


“A scholarly and authoritative source . . . essential for Jews of all denominations.”
–The Jewish Spectator

“Anyone seeking answers to this timely topic will be treated to the most interesting and thought-provoking interpretations.”
–The Jewish Funeral Director

“A precious gift from a wise and sensitive author . . . English-speaking Jewry is in the debt of Rabbi Kolatch.”
–Rabbi Robert Pilavin

“Highly recommended for all libraries.”
–Library Journal

About the Author

Alfred J. Kolatch, a graduate of the Teachers' Institute of Yeshiva University and its College of Liberal Arts, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, which subsequently awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa . From 1941 to 1948 he served as rabbi of congregations in Columbia, South Carolina, and Kew Gardens, New York, and as a chaplain in the United States Army. In 1948 he founded Jonathan David Publishers, of which he has since been president and editor-in-chief.

Rabbi Kolatch has authored numerous books, the most popular of which are Great Jewish Quotations, How to Live a Jewish Life, What Jews Say About God, This Is the Torah, and the best-selling Jewish Book of Why and its sequel, The Second Jewish Book of Why. Several of his works deal with nomenclature, about which he is an acknowledged authority. The New Name Dictionary and The Complete Dictionary of English and Hebrew First Names are his most recent works on the subject. Other books by the author include Our Religion: The Torah, The Jewish Heritage Quiz Book, The Jewish Mourner's Book of Why, Who's Who in the Talmud, and The Family Seder.

In addition to his scholarly work, Rabbi Kolatch is interested in the work of the military chaplaincy and has served as president of the Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces and as vice-president of the interdenominational Military Chaplains Association of the United States.


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