Question:

A boy who in his teen years got a tattoo out of anger at “the establishment” asked me about being buried in a Jewish cemetery. I told him that I know of no such prohibition, nor minhag. But he told me he has heard from frum people that there is such a minhag. Is there one somewhere? Does he have anything at all to worry about?

Answer:

There is no such din or minhag brought down anywhere. My belief is that in America this belief developed at a certain point from Jewish parents who were losing their children to assimilation within American society. They wanted some sort of guilt technique to manipulate their sons and daughters to stay away from the bad crowds, so they told their kids that if they got a tattoo, they wouldn’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery. After hearing this, the children were afraid to cross the line. This in turn probably led to a practice and policy within certain Jewish burial societies in America to deny burial to Jews who willingly got tattoos on their bodies. This practice and policy is not based on Halacha but rather the right and preference of those choosing to be buried in that cemetery to not be buried next to those types of Jews who had gotten tattoos.