July 1, 2002 at 12:00 am #33219
There are a couple of reasons why Jews leave stones on headstones. The first is simply as a sort of guest book - to show that someone has been there. The second is to differentiate Jews from Christians. Jews have always had strict laws about burial - that the dead must be buried within 3 days of death - and Christians have not. This is how the custom of Christians bringing flowers began - because before embalming, when you waited to bury someone, they started to smell. That's why Jews usually do not bring flowers - bringing stones was a way of showing that we were Jews, not Christians.