Ohel (grave)

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The graves of Avraham Mordechai Alter (right) and his son, Pinchas Menachem Alter (left) in an ohel adjacent to the Sfas Emes Yeshiva in downtown Jerusalem.

Ohel (Hebrew: אוהל‬; plural: ohelim, literally, "tent")[1][2] is a structure built around a Jewish grave as a sign of prominence of the deceased. Ohelim cover the graves of some (but not all) Hasidic Rebbes, important rabbis, tzadikim, prominent Jewish community leaders, and biblical figures. Typically a small masonry building, an ohel may include room for visitors to pray, meditate, and light candles in honor of the deceased.


According to Krajewska, the tradition of covering a grave with an ohel may be based on the Cave of the Patriarchs, in which Abraham buried Sarah.[2] Nolan Menachemson suggests that the Hasidic tradition of covering the graves of Rebbes with an ohel derives from the Ohel Moed ("Tent of Meeting") in which Moses communicated with God during the Israelites' travels in the desert.[3]


Ohelim are usually simple masonry structures. They may include one or two windows.[2] In prewar Poland, the ohel of a Rebbe was located close by the Hasidic court, and was big enough to accommodate a minyan of ten men beside the grave.[4]

The ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbes in Queens, New York, is unusual in that it does not have a roof. This allows kohanim to visit the graves without coming into contact with impurity from the dead.[5]


In the case of a Hasidic Rebbe, the ohel is a place for visitors to pray, meditate, write kvitelach (petitionary prayer notes), and light candles in honor of the deceased.[6][7][8] Ohelim of Hasidic Rebbes, as well as the tombs of tzadikim venerated by Moroccan Jews, serve as year-round pilgrimage sites, with the biggest influx of visitors coming on the Rebbe's or tzadik's Yom Hillula (anniversary of death).[9][10]

Notable ohelim

One or more graves may be included in the same ohel. Notable ohelim include:

Single-grave ohel

Multiple-grave ohel

Biblical figures and Talmudic sages

Biblical figures and Mishnaic and Talmudic sages are typically buried in ohelim:[citation needed]


See also


  1. ^ Steinmetz 2005, p. 117.
  2. ^ a b c Krajewska 1993, p. 22.
  3. ^ Menachemson 2007, p. 41.
  4. ^ Biale 2017, p. 426.
  5. ^ Goldstein, Rabbi Yaakov (28 November 2016). "Kohanim". shulchanaruchharav.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  6. ^ Rabinowicz 1996, p. 351.
  7. ^ Jagielski, Jan (2017). "Cemeteries". POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  8. ^ Kadish 2006.
  9. ^ Miller 2014, p. 414.
  10. ^ Shokeid, Moshe (2016). "Pilgrimage: Contemporary Jewish Pilgrimage". Encyclopedia of Religion. Retrieved 2 April 2018.


  • Biale, David; et al. (2017). Hasidim: A New History. Princeton University Press. ISBN 1400889197.
  • Kadish, Sharman (2006). Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide. English Heritage. ISBN 190562428X.
  • Krajewska, Monika (1993). A Tribe of Stones: Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. Polish Scientific Publishers.
  • Menachemson, Nolan (2007). A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries. Avotaynu. ISBN 1886223297.
  • Miller, Chaim (2014). Turning Judaism Outward: A Biography of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. Kol Menachem. ISBN 1934152366.
  • Rabinowicz, Tzvi (1996). The Encyclopedia of Hasidism. Jason Aronson. ISBN 1568211236.
  • Steinmetz, Sol (2005). Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742543870.

External links

  • Photos of the ohel over the grave of Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel at Amuka
  • Olevsk Ohel
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