Become a "Shomer" (Overnight Guardian)
at a Jewish Funeral Home
By Eric Hammer
This is definitely one of the more unusual ways of making
money, but it's actually quite easy for an Orthodox Jew to do
the job. In essence, this job involves being a kind of overnight
guardian at a Jewish funeral home. Mind you, the job doesn't
involve being a security guard - you're not going to let people
into the funeral home at night. This job is more like an honor
guard kind of a job.
The job is one that must be done by an Orthodox Jew (or at
least a Jewish person who is willing to wear a skullcap and have
the appearance of being Orthodox). However, for the work, you
basically sleep in a funeral home for the evening and get paid
a nice amount of money for your trouble. You are expected to
recite psalms for a portion of the time and occasionally, you'll
be asked to attend the funeral the next day, though often you
simply spend the evening at a Jewish funeral home and go home
the next day.
The reason for this job is that it is considered to be appropriate
to have a kind of honor guard to watch over the deceased until
they are buried. This means that Orthodox Jewish funeral homes
are regularly in need of people willing to sit quietly in the
funeral home. You will not need to touch the body and you will
generally not need to do anything other than retain solemn respect
for the deceased.
How Much Can You Make?
Work of this kind typically pays anywhere from around $50
per shift to as much as $100 per shift. A shift is usually considered
to be 8 hours long or any part thereof.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that you'll need to dress appropriately for a
funeral home. This means wearing a suit and tie when going. You'll
also be sleeping there, which means that you will often be stuck
sleeping on a bench since there are no beds to sleep on in most
Jewish funeral homes.
It is possible to make additional money if you are willing
to help the funeral director with removals - this entails helping
to wrap the body in sheets while it is removed to the hearse
before being transported to the funeral home. You may also be
able to earn extra money if the family requests that someone
is available to recite psalms the entire evening - typically,
two people are hired for such a job and a third shift is added,
which is split between the two people. Finally, agreeing to attend
the funeral the next day is another way to earn extra money.
It is however important to own a car since you need to be
able to get any Jewish funeral home that the local Hebrew Burial
Society may send you to. Those who don't have such access will
find their opportunities to be much more limited. Finally, keep
in mind that while you generally don't touch the bodies of the
deceased, you will be working in a Jewish funeral home and as
such, you need to be comfortable with that kind of experience
and with being around dead bodies overnight.
Qualifications / Requirements
The main requirement for this job is that you need to be Orthodox
Jewish and able to recite psalms. You also must be comfortable
behaving and dressing respectfully when working in the funeral
Start by contacting your local Hebrew burial society and or
your local Jewish funeral home. Ask about work as a "shomer"
and tell them that you are prepared to work on short notice (this
is important for this kind of job.
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how
to become a "shomer" in a Jewish funeral home:
Star of David Chapels: Jewish Burial Customs
- A basic guide to burial and the use of a Jewish funeral home,
including a brief description of the job of a "shomer."
Directors of America - This site has a database to find Jewish
funeral homes in your area.