1 Jewish Funeral and Mourning Customs September/October 1997 Jewish Funeral Customs I have been to funerals for family members and friends who passed away. All funerals have different procedures depending on the deceased persons religion and desires. Each religion has its own customs. When my mother passed away recently, I became aware of my friends wanting to pay respect but felt awkward as to what customs and procedures were being used. Several readers suggested that an article be written in JDCC News on these customs and what readers need to be aware of. Judaism, just like other religions, does have many laws and customs regarding funerals and mourning. Which Family Members Mourn Naturally everyone who knew the deceased person is in various degrees of mourning depending on the relationship with the person who passed away. Judaism, however, specifies seven immediate family members who are expected to directly observe the mourning period: the mother and father, son and daughter, brother and sister, (including half-brother and half-sister), and husband and wife. Clothing And Mourning These seven certain members of the family in mourning do not wear leather shoes, put on make up or use perfume, shave, take haircuts, or bathe, and no marital relationships take place. All mirrors in the house where the family is sitting Shiva are covered as mourners are not to be vain. All mourners sit on low stools or the floor. The word Shevah in Hebrew means seven, and the word Shiva is taken from that to mean seven days of mourning following the funeral. More on Shiva will be explained later in this article. Immediate Burial The mourning period begins with the funeral. It is tradition for the burial to take place as soon as possible, even on the same day of the death, but no more than two nights after the death. Only under certain circumstances, the burial be delayed. It is considered disrespectful to keep the body from being buried as soon as possible. His soul has returned to G-d, but his body is left to linger in the land of the living. That would be considered a matter of great shame.
2 Jewish people do not have a wake (where the body is displayed), because Judaism beliefs is that the body should be brought to its resting place as soon as possible. It is not customary to bring flowers because the funeral is to be as simple as possible. Only wood coffins are used in Jewish funerals because Judaism belief is that we do not preserve the body because as the body decays, the soul ascends to Heaven. Burial Ceremony Traditions If you have attended Jewish funerals in the past, you may have noticed one tradition where the Rabbi or a representative tears the blouse or shirt of the seven mourners as a sign of mourning. It is called tearing the Kria. For a mother or father, the left side of the shirt is ripped because it is considered a deeper loss for the parent who brought the deceased into the world and are considered closest to you in feelings. For other family members, the right side of the shirt is torn. Services starts with the Kaddish, a special prayer which is also recited by a parent for 11 months and by other family members for 30 days. Kaddish is usually said by the son. If there are no sons, family members can designate someone else to say Kaddish for the deceased. It is considered a privilege for the deceased soul to have someone say Kaddish for them. Regardless of whether you are a Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Jew, many Orthodox beliefs are followed or honored when people want to mourn for a Jewish person in the most traditional way possible. Whenever you are not sure, or are considering a change in rituals, you should consult with your Rabbi, or the Rabbi conducting the service and ceremony. The Cemetery Any Jewish person can be buried in a Jewish cemetery. In certain cases, however, if one marries out of the faith or committed suicide, the person would be buried in a separate part of the cemetery. Cremation is not allowed in Jewish law because the body was given to us as a gift from G-d who expects us to take care of ourselves and return in the best condition possible. Autopsies are not allowed according to Orthodox law, nor donation of body organs. A Rabbi must be consulted if an autopsy has to be done or an organ donation is being considered. It is acceptable, however, to donate a kidney during the person's lifetime.
3 Embalming is not allowed. This process of removing blood, discarding it down the drain and substituting preservative chemicals in the body, is considered desecration of the deceased person and is forbidden by Jewish law. It is also the Orthodox opinion that the person be buried in the ground. You may have noticed some sites at a Jewish cemetery where the grave looks like a wall. This is not traditional although but under certain circumstances, it can be allowed. A Rabbi should be consulted before a decision is made. Shiva During the week of Shiva, any family member and friends come to comfort the mourners, regardless of their religious beliefs. It is customary to bring food, although you may want to check if the mourning family keeps kosher. If they do, then bring either uncut fruit or bakery goods from a kosher bakery or store. At the first meal after the funeral, mourners eat a hard-boiled egg and something round to indicate that life is like a circle and the mourners have no words to describe their loss. For thirty days, mourners do not attend weddings, bar/bat-mitzvahs or other events that have music. The son or daughter of the deceased do not attend for 12 months. They also do not shave or cut their hair. Visiting The Cemetery Photo: ILY symbol Customs vary as to when one may visit the grave site. In Israel, it is customary for people to go on the day they finish sitting Shiva. Others may go at the end of the Shloshim (The Thirty Days), others don't go for eleven months. Visitors can bring live flowers although the Orthodox custom, which many other Jewish people also do, is to
4 put stones on the grave instead. Putting a pebble on the grave is an expression of someone having visited to pay respect for the deceased person. Customs also vary about the Tombstone Unveiling ceremony. In Israel, many people do it after 30 days, other people do it at the 11th month after the burial. The family Rabbi would be the best person to check with. Follow this link to see examples of tombstone Symbols Any information can be put on the tombstone. Usual procedure is to place both the English and Hebrew names of the deceased on the tombstone with their fathers name. Some people may also list the birth date and the date that the person passed away. Jewish people who are Cohenim or Leviim also put symbols such as a pair of hands or a wash basin to show that they are a Cohen or a Levi. Anniversary We observe the Yarzheit (anniversary date of passing) on the day the person passed away according to the Jewish calendar. During the first year after a parent passes away, one joins in the Yizkor services on the three Festivals and Yom Kippur but does not say the prayer. One of the reasons is because Kaddish is said for the person everyday during the first eleven months. Yizkor in Hebrew means remember. Yizkor is a prayer said in memory of the person. This prayer is said on Yom Kippur, Shimini Atzeretz, on the last day of Passover, and Shavuot. Arranging For Burial There are Jewish funeral organizations such as Chevra Kadisha Mortuaries who can make all the arrangements for burial. They will, for a fee, handle everything from limousine service to and from the funeral, to sympathy acknowledgment cards, obituaries in the local and Jewish newspapers, death certificates, and give out Yarzheit candles (memorial candle for the week of Shiva) to the family. If the family members belong to a Temple or Synagogue, they can ask their Rabbi to conduct the services. If the members are not affiliated with a Temple and want a specific Rabbi, they need to check if the Rabbi is available and agreeable to conduct the service. Otherwise, the Funeral home can locate a Rabbi to conduct the service. Pre Planning Needs This is not a topic that many of us like to talk about. But if we plan in advance just like we do when we need to buy automobile insurance or obtain medical insurance. We hope we will never need the insurance in
5 event of an emergency. It is the same situation when it comes to planning ahead for your burial arrangements. You can choose your preference of site, casket, Rabbi, etc ahead of time and reduce the burden on the loved ones so they don't have to make all the difficult decisions at once. The price range for a cemetery plot varies. It is like shopping for a home. You want to know more information about the neighborhood and the average price for a two bedroom home, as one counselor explains, it's the same for the cemetery. Location is a key factor in the price range. You may want a plot in a specific section, prefer a traditional side by side space, or family estate for semi-privacy within a garden estate for the whole family, wall crypt, or grassy, flat, hilltop, mountain or garden view. Funeral costs will depend on what kind of caskets. Costs can run between $395 and $7,000 plus tax. Within the price ranges, there are services that are provided such as maintenance of the plot, the tombstone, use of the funeral home for service instead. Funeral Home Larry Goldstein, deaf since birth and a graduate of Gallaudet University, manages all pre-arrangement accounts for his family's funeral home business in Philadelphia, PA. In his job with Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, Inc., Goldstein also works with members in the Jewish Deaf community and explain their options and how Jewish religious tradition plays a part in choosing a casket. Helpful Tips for A Checklist Requesting the death certificate - for legal purposes. for the funeral. Making arrangements with funeral home - To remove and prepare the body Get a Rabbi - to provide guidance and spiritual comfort and to make arrangements for the service. PHOTO: Larry Goldstein Contact all family members and friends. Notify Employer.
6 Inform the deceased person's affiliations i.e. professional and social organizations. Notify Insurance agent. Most importantly you should know where the location is for the wills and vital papers, records, and bank safe deposit box keys and their tallit if the deceased is a male. Meaning Of Symbols On Tombstones: Blessing hand - Cohen, Pitcher - Levi, Candelabrum and menorah - female, Books - author or leamed man, Star of David - male, Crown and Ark with Torah - Rabbinic Authority Animals Usually Stand For A Name: Dove - Jonah, Lion - Aryeh, Judah, Leo, Fish - Fischel, Eagle - Adler, Rooster - Hahn,Bear Dov, Flowers, fruits, and two lions are standard decorations. Other Symbols Include: Birds - soul, Pigeon - love (From Song of Songs), Garland - youth, Broken lilies - young child, Broken candle - early death, Two doves - husband and wife (double gravestone), Cut tree - (usually palm or oak) - was cut down in the prime of life
What to do after a death in England or Wales Part of the Department for Work and Pensions Introduction When someone close to you dies, there are many decisions and arrangements you ll have to make, often
Open Adoption: It s Your Choice If you re pregnant and thinking about placing your child for adoption (making an adoption plan for your child), you may want to consider open adoption. Ask yourself Read
What you should know about IN ONTARIO This booklet contains information about the law as it was at the time it was written. The law can change. Check the Ministry of the Attorney General website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca
Planning for your Peace of Mind A Guide to Medical and Legal Decisions Dear Friend, This booklet was designed to assist you in preplanning by providing frequently asked questions, general information and
Updated 13/01/15 A Guide To Being in Care For Children and Young People 1 Contents Introduction Page 3 Pathways into Care Page 3-6 Role of your Social Worker Page 6 Adoption Page 7 Special Guardianship
Funeral Planning Author: Christine Schinzel Box 91 Pine Bluffs, WY 82082 (307) 640-5360 Introduction: Planning for your eventual death is one area most people would like to ignore. It s a scary process
Legacy Planning Will Writing Guide (England and Wales) Making your wishes known This guide explains: Why making a Will is so important and what happens if you don t have one The types of Will you can make
End of life planning series A Guide to End of Life Care Care of children and young people before death, at the time of death and after death Together for Short Lives, August 2012 A Guide to End of Life
Maine Health Care Advance Directive Form You may use this form now to tell your physician and others what medical care you want to receive if you become too sick in the future to tell them what you want.
Powers of Attorney This booklet contains forms for Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care Ministry of the Attorney General NOT FOR SALE Table of Contents Ontario's
hope and healing after suicide A practical guide for people who have lost someone to suicide in Ontario hope and healing after suicide i A practical guide for people who have lost someone to suicide in
Using a lawyer as you get older: Ten top tips www.legalombudsman.org.uk The information in this leaflet is useful for anyone who is considering using a lawyer but it may be particularly useful for people
THE BASICS Getting a Divorce in New York State Either the wife or the husband can ask a Court for a divorce. In this booklet, we say that the wife is the person who will go to Court to request a divorce
Help is at Hand A resource for people bereaved by suicide and other sudden, traumatic death Acknowledgments This guide was developed by Professor Keith Hawton and Sue Simkin at the Centre for Suicide Research,
Preparing for end of life A practical and emotional guide 1 This booklet looks at the practical and emotional issues relating to Parkinson s and the later stages of life. This includes decisions you may
In Newfoundland and Labrador www.publiclegalinfo.com Public Legal Information Association of NL Contents: Wills Enduring Power of Attorney Advance Health Care Directives Glossary of Terms Seniors and The
THE BASICS Adoption in New York State This booklet has been put together to help you understand what adoption is. It will tell you who can be adopted. It will tell you who can adopt a child and how the
March 2012 Needing help after someone has died? humanservices.gov.au Help in other languages If you need an interpreter or documents translated for your business with us, we can arrange this for you free
The Uncontested Divorce Process in Texas This guide is intended to help you use the uncontested divorce forms provided by www.texaslawhelp.org Is your divorce contested? -Or- Is your divorce uncontested?
Getting a result! Information and ideas to help young people who are multi-sensory-impaired and their families understand and participate more fully in the transition planning process Advice for Connexions
Writing Your Own Will: A Guide for First Nations People Living on Reserve 1 Acknowledgements 2010 Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of BC Writer and Legal Researcher: Alison Sawyer, LL.B. Policy
End-of-Life Decisions This booklet addresses issues that matter to us all, because we will all face the end of life. Advance directives living wills and healthcare powers of attorney are valuable tools
2. Your rights to equality at work: working hours, flexible working and time off. Equality Act 2010 Guidance for employees. Vol. 2 of 6. July 2011 Contents Introduction... 5 Other guides and alternative
Information for parents with the day-to-day care of their child a child maintenance decisions guide Understand your child maintenance choices Tools to help you set up a child maintenance arrangement Ideas
Bereavement When someone close dies SOCIAL WORK DEPARTMENT, BEAUMONT HOSPITAL, DUBLIN Bereavement When someone close dies By: Annette Winston, Bereavement Care Co-ordinator, Senior Social Worker, Beaumont
End of life: a guide A booklet for people in the final stages of life, and their carers End of life: a guide Coping with the news Issues to consider Sorting things out Financial help Choosing where you
After a suicide Practical information for people bereaved by suicide This resource was funded by the Ministry of Youth Development and draws on New Zealand and international research, and on the experiences