Jewish Funeral Traditions
The Process of a Jewish Funeral
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A guide to the main points of Jewish funeral customs about which mourners usually are concerned. For further detailed information, the Rabbi of your Synagogue should be consulted.
The laws of mourning are observed in memory of parents, husband, wife, son, daughter brother or sister.
The laws of mourning do not apply when the deceased is an infant less then thirty day old. Boys less than thirteen years of age and girls less the twelve years of age, are not obligated to observe the laws of mourning.
To indicate grief, the mourner makes a rent in his garment on the right hand side, except in the case of parents when it is made on the left side.
When the death occurs on Yom Tov, K'RIAH is made after its conclusion. No K'RIAH is observed for an infant less the thirty days old.
The period of Shivah commences immediately after the interment. It is made by abstinence from one’s occupation unless there is extreme financial hardship. Religious services are held in the home where the Shivah is observed. The mourners remain indoors throughout the day but may go to their respective homes after nightfall. There is no Shivah on the Sabbath, and the mourners go to the Synagogue for the Sabbath Services.
It is customary during Shivah to have a candle or lamp burning in memory of deceased person. Yom Tov terminates Shivah. When a person dies Erev - Yom Tov, the ensuing holiday or festival cancels the Shivah. When the death takes place during Yom Tov (including Hol haMoed), the Shivah commences only after the conclusion of Yom Tov.
The grave of the deceased should not be visited by the mourners before the end of Shloshim-the thirty day period.
The Kaddish is to be recited by the mourners for the period of eleven months. It is recited during the three scheduled services every day at the Synagogue. At the expiration of the year, Kaddish is to be said on the Yahrzeit and repeated at every anniversary.
The Yahrzeit is to be solemnized on the anniversary of the day when the death took place,
and commences the preceding evening. It is customary to light a candle or a lamp for the Yahrzeit.
“A mere shadow are our days upon the earth.” Naught is left to me of him who has gone “to the valley of the shadow of death” but a stone bearing his name. This is all we have to mark the spot where his mortal remains are laid, to remind us of what we too shall soon become. In the grave all our efforts end. Here is nothing but a fragile stone or a name whom we leave behind, unless we sow the seed of goodness and useful deeds in our earthy career, the fruits of which we shall reap in heaven.
O thoul who sleepest in dust, this monument was not needed to recall thy name, for thy precious memory is enthroned in the hearts of many; but thy gentle qualities and kind friendship have so endeared thy image to my soul, that death alone can efface the remembrance of the loss I have sustained in thy decease.
May the body rest in peace. Lord in setting this stone to the memory of……...I beseech Thee
to grant repose to his (her) soul, give him (her) the peace of righteous, and admit him (her) to the joy of contemplating Thy divine presence
Vouchsafe Thy mercy to me, O lord! That my spirit may one day also enjoy eternal beatitude,
and make my memory worthy of being honored and preserved among those whom I shall leave behind. Amen.
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