LifeCycle Events: Death, Burial, and Bereavement: Cremation and Embalming:
Can a Jew be cremated? Can he be embalmed?
The Torah requires burial; see Deut.21:23, which tells us that even
executed criminals must be buried. Disposing of a body in any other way, including cremation, is regarded as desecration of the dead. Jews are buried in caskets that aren't hermetically sealed. Man was created from dust, and when he dies his body is supposed to return to the dust (Gen.3:19). Jacob and Joseph were embalmed, but that was before the Torah was given; embalming is now forbidden.
Ask a follow-up question