What is Reform Judaism's position on cremation?

Answered by
Rabbi Victor S. Appell

It is considered a mitzvah to bury the dead with all proper respect. Jewish tradition defines this mitzvah as the burial of the body in the earth. Some Reform Jews have adopted the practice of cremation. While this method of handling the dead is generally contrary to Jewish tradition, there is no clear-cut prohibition of cremation in the halachic literature (literature of Jewish law). The Reform rabbinate seeks to encourage the traditional practice of burial in the earth whenever possible and, some Reform rabbis do not officiate at memorial services for those who have chosen cremation.