Leaving a cemetery after a burialon Friday (nisht da gedacht) I got caught behind a slew of parked cars. It turns out that the attendees atanother funeral and burial had chosen to picnic afterwards right in the cemetery. While I know that many cultures do this (Islamic, Mexican) it struck me as not very Jewish. Doesn't contact with the dead or presence in a cemetery render you extremely impure (to the extent that only the ashes of a red cow can really make you pure)? Most homes that I have been to after Jewish funerals put out a pitcher of water for ablutions upon returning from the grave. In Safed there is even a mikvah (ritual bath) by the cemetery for those who wish to use it when leaving.
I remarked how strange the picnic seemed to me to my father, who told me that when he was young they used to picnic in cemeteries all the time. They were much more observant than I am, but I think thatthey did this partly for logistical reasons. They didn't have cars, it was a long trip, and you had to eat somewhere.
What gives? Does anyone know the consequences for ritual purity of dining in a graveyard? Cross cultural comparisons are welcome, though perhaps on another board.
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