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.

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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 home.

First Steps

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."

Jewish Funeral Directors of America - This site has a database to find Jewish funeral homes in your area.

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