This research paper is about the ritual process of tahara, a purification ritual on the deceased, in Judaism. I address how conceptions of gender, of the deceased and the living, influences the performance of the ritual. Theories of ritual and gender are complimented with cross-cultural literature about the deceased’s identity and the living’s conceptions of and proximity to the deceased. From the summer of 2019 through the winter of 2020, I conducted formal interviews and content analysis. The information from members of the Jewish community and tahara manuals enhanced my research. Overall, tahara is a ritual process marked by liminality, in which there is danger for the deceased and the living because of the occurrence of transition. During this time, the deceased’s status is determined for him or her by the living and his or her status causes the living to behave in a particular way. This prescribed behavior reflects a notion of ‘order’ in ‘community’ and ‘internal division’ within the funeral process. Gender outside of the binary has not yet been discussed in the context of tahara.


Frese, Pam

Second Advisor

Park, Chan Sok


Sociology and Anthropology; Religious Studies


death ritual, gender, tahara

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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