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Death and Mourning

Judaism provides a framework for coping with death and mourning that is respectful of the deceased and comforting to those left behind. As death approaches, individuals who may be dying are encouraged to prepare ethical wills and recite the traditional Vidui confession of sins. After death, the body of the deceased is accompanied at all times until burial and is prepared with great care and respect by the Chevrah Keddisha, known as the sacred burial society.

The funeral service consists of key prayers such as El Maleh Rachamim, “God full of compassion”, psalms and a eulogy. The burial ceremony includes the recitation of the mourners’ prayer called the Kaddish. It is customary that those in attendance participate in covering the casket with dirt. After the burial, mourners leave the graveside first while those in attendance comfort them with the words: “May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”.

The mourning period, which enables the family to process the loss of a loved one, lasts for seven days and is called Shiva, meaning seven. During that time, the mourners do not leave their home but are visited by friends and family who participate in daily prayer services and provide them with food and basic necessities.

Following the Shiva period, mourners observe a period of 30 days called Shloshim where they can resume regular activities while refraining from pleasures. Following Shloshim, a period of 11 months is observed, during which the mourners’ kaddish is said twice daily. After 11 months, an unveiling ceremony is often held when the gravestone is dedicated and made visible to the public. These specific periods of mourning enable those who have lost loved ones, to transition back into daily life while acknowledging their pain and loss.

On a yearly basis, on the anniversary of the loved one’s death (called a Yahrzeit), family members recite the Kaddish and light a memorial candle.

Congregation Shaarey Zedek’s Ritual and Administrative team can help you navigate this difficult period making the necessary arrangements and interfacing with the organizations and processes.

Our catering department can provide food for your receptions following funerals and unveilings as well as take-out orders for Shiva meals.

Reach out to us — we're here to help!

Pre-Planning and Funeral Arrangements
Estelle Raber

Life Cycle Director

Fri, 12 July 2024 6 Tammuz 5784