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Sitting with the body of the deceased as a shomer (guardian) is an important way to express kevod ha-met—respect for the body (met/ah) of the deceased as the vessel which housed the soul in life.
In our community, when you volunteer to be a shomer you may sit with the deceased during a portion of the period of time between the end of taharah (ritual purification) and the time of the funeral service, or at an earlier time, before the taharah has been performed. If the time you sit is before taharah, the met/ah is under refrigeration in a different part of the building, and there is no coffin in the room. If it is between taharah and the funeral, the body is in a closed coffin and is not on view. Shmira takes place in a room in the funeral home.
When you are a shomer you should observe the following guidelines:
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