Death and Afterlife in Judaism

Jews view death not as a tragedy but rather a part of life and of God’s plan. The Jewish faith believes in an afterlife in which the deceased’s soul will dwell in a place where they will be rewarded or punished depending on how they have lived their life here on earth.

  • Death is a means of being reunited with one’s ancestors. The Book of Genesis discusses how Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses are gathered with their people after death.
  • Judaism believes in the existence of heaven and hell. For the righteous, a place called Gan Eden will be their eternal destination.  Unrighteous Jews and Gentiles will be punished in a place called Gehinnom.
  • Judaism also believes that souls who are in-between (neither good nor totally wicked) go to a dark place called She’ol where they go through a period of purification and will either be placed in Gan Eden or will continue to be punished.
  • There is a messianic age or a period when the Messiah will come. It is believed that during that time, those who died righteous will be resurrected. The messianic age will be a time of lasting peace and joy.

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