Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stones on Graves (Charlie's Bible Question)

Charlie’s Question Concerning the Jewish 

Tradition of Putting Stones on a Grave


It is a Jewish custom to leave stones on graves.

Though anyone may put stones on a grave, the practice is based in Jewish tradition. Most graves in Jewish cemeteries have at least a few stones on them because Jewish visitors leave stones each time they visit a loved one's burial place. The origins of this tradition range from the symbolic to the superstitious.

Ancient Marker

  • In ancient times, Jews buried their dead beneath markers made of gathered stones. Placing a stone on a grave symbolically contributes to the tombstone.

Symbol of Visit

  • For some people, placing a stone on a grave is equal to the gesture of leaving flowers. Placing a stone pays tribute to the dead and leaves the mark of one's visit.

Symbol of Memory

  • While flowers symbolize life's beauty and evanescence, stones symbolize the longevity of memory. By placing a stone on a grave, we enact our long-term commitment to remembering the dead.


  • Some Jewish people believe that stones placed on the grave help to keep the dead in the ground, preventing their spirits from haunting or harming the living.