Question: According to Halachah, may a person whose body has tattoos be buried in a Jewish cemetery? Ho whose body has been pierced?
Answer: It is not prohibited to bury someone who has tattoos or body piercings in a Jewish cemetery. Although the Torah prohibits making a permanent tattoo on one’s body (VaYikra 19:28), doing so does not disqualify one from burial in a Jewish cemetery. Body piercing or mutilation is prohibited only in grief over a deceased friend or relative (as is common in some cultures), or if it is done to emulate a non-Jewish custom. In any case, it does not disqualify a person from burial in a Jewish cemetery.
Deliberate, permanent disfigurement of the body would also be prohibited. But such practices as ear piercing and cosmetic surgery (e.g., elective rhinoplasty) are not prohibited. The purpose of cosmetic surgery is to make the body more beautiful not to disfigure it.
All the Best,
Rabbi Azriel Schreiber
[Reposted from the archives]