Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q11.6.1 TOC Q11.6.3 >

Question 11.6.2:
Death and Burial: I've heard about a custom of putting stones on the grave. Do you know where this custom originated?


Originally, there were no engraved tombstones like we have today. Originally, tombs were marked with a simple cairn, a simple pile of stones. This meant that wind and rain would cause the tomb marker to wear down. Each visitor would therefore add to the pile again, to show respect, that the deceased was remembered. Over the years, a mound of stones would accumulate, memorializing the deceased through the hands of his/her loved ones.

The tombstone we have today serves as another form of cairn. Originally, names were not put on a tombstone; this is a more modern custom. Although Jews now follow this practice, many people still continue the earlier custom of leaving stones.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>