DISTRIBUTED ANNUALLY BY YOUR CONGREGATION
Guide to the Jewish Funeral
Prepared by the Funeral Practices Committee
Of Your Congregation
Address and Phone
|The Jewish way of dealing with death is one part of a larger philosophy of life in which all people are viewed with dignity and respect. Our people believe that, even after death, the body, which once held a holy human life, retains its sanctity. Our sages have compared the sacredness of the deceased to that of an impaired Torah scroll, which although no longer usable, still retains its holiness. In Jewish tradition, therefore, the greatest consideration and respect is accorded the dead.
Jewish law and tradition have endowed funeral and mourning practices with profound religious significance. To this end, Jewish funerals avoid ostentation; family and visitors reflect in dress and deportment the solemnity of the occasion; flowers and music are inappropriate, embalming and viewing are avoided; and interment takes place as soon as possible after death.
Funerary customs are traditionally supervised in Jewish communities by a chevra kadisha, a holy society, comprised of volunteers to aid the bereaved and to ensure that appropriate practices are followed.
Assisting in the preparation and burial of the body is a highly-valued mitzvah. It is a chesed shel emet, a true act of kindness performed without ulterior motive, for the dead cannot repay this service.
WHEN DEATH OCCURS
· Contact the Rabbi or the Synagogue Office first:
·The rabbi, synagogue staff and funeral practices committee are prepared to assist and advise you in making all necessary arrangements.
·Coordinators for the funeral practices committee have been assigned to assist bereaved members. The names and telephone numbers of the coordinators are published each month in the Synagogue Bulletin.
|When a member of a community dies, it is the community’s responsibility to lovingly assist the deceased’s family in this final act of respect. In this spirit, the Synagogue’s Funeral Practices Committee has prepared this basic guide to provide essential information concerning Jewish death, funeral and mourning practices.|
THE SYNAGOGUE FUNERAL PRACTICES COMMITTEE
|The funeral practices committee wants every synagogue member family to know that our congregation is prepared to assist in a variety of ways:
· The Rabbi is available to assist all members when death occurs. The congregation’s staff and leadership are able to contact the Rabbi (or an alternate if the Rabbi is unavailable) at all times. The Rabbi prefers to be contacted prior to contacting a funeral home or making other funeral commitments in order to counsel the bereaved family concerning traditional Jewish practices.
· The synagogue has contracted with a local funeral home for a simple authentically Jewish funeral at a predetermined cost.
|· The Synagogue Board of Directors has established a policy that permits family members to hold traditional funerals in the sanctuary or chapel. A traditional funeral includes tahara, tachrichim, a closed wooden coffin, and a Jewish service devoid of flowers and instrumental music (see page 2 for details). The Synagogue staff and the Funeral Practices Committee will assist the family in making arrangements.
· The Funeral Practices committee is prepared to assist families in making arrangements with a funeral home, and to advise them concerning traditional practices and requirements.
· The Synagogue staff and Funeral Practices Committee will arrange for tahara, tachrichim, and. at the request of the family, a condolence meal and shiva services.
YOUR CONGREGATION – YOUR CITY, STATE – PHONE NUMBER
|Jewish tradition suggests that burial take place as quickly as possible, usually within 24 hours of death. Burial may be delayed for legal reasons; to transport the deceased; if close relatives must travel long distances to be present at the funeral/burial; or to avoid burial on the Sabbath or another holy day. In any case, it should not be delayed longer than necessary. Such special cases as death by accident or suicide, or death of children under 30 days of age should be referred to the rabbi for guidance. In any event, it should be borne in mind that it is inappropriate to make funeral arrangements on Shabbat.
SHMIRA – WATCHING THE BODY
Though organ donation is viewed by some as involving some desecration of the body, we view it as an example of k’vod ha-met, bringing healing to the living. Thus, it is usually permissible to donate certain organs or tissues; however, since some types of organ donations remain in question under Jewish law, the rabbi should be consulted in all cases.
TAHARA – RITUAL CLEANSING
TACHRICHIM – SHROUD AND BURIAL ATTIRE Jewish law prescribes burial in plain white garments (tachrichim) to demonstrate the equality of all. In addition, it is customary for Jews to be buried wearing their kipa and talit.
ARON – COFFIN
K’RIA – RENDING OF GARMENTS
PALL AND PALLBEARERS
During the period from death until burial the mourner (called an onen during this period) is exempt from performing all religious duties. Condolence calls should be made after the funeral during the shiva week except on the Sabbath.
KOHANIM – PRIESTS
VIEWING THE REMAINS
YOUR CONGREGATION – YOUR CITY, STATE – PHONE NUMBER
|CARRYING THE COFFIN
The pallbearers customarily stop several times while carrying the coffin to the grave. The coffin precedes the mourners, family and friends as a mark of respect.
K’VURA – BURIAL
|LEAVING THE CEMETERY
It is customary for the mourners to pass between two rows of the others in attendance to receive traditional expressions of consolation. After burial, it is also traditional to wash one’s hands after leaving the cemetery or before entering the house of mourning. This washing is an affirmation of life after involvement with death.
|Periods of Mourning|
|SHIVA – THE FIRST SEVEN DAYS
Shiva is the seven-day period of intensive mourning observed by the immediate family of the deceased beginning on the day of burial. The mourners include anyone whose parent, spouse, child, or sibling has died. During the entire shiva period mourners are encouraged to stay away from work or school to remain at home, and to contemplate the meaning of life and the manner in which adjustment will be made to the death of the beloved.
Public mourning observances are suspended on the Sabbath in view of the belief that the sanctity and serenity of this day supersedes personal grief. Mourners are permitted, indeed encouraged, to attend Sabbath services; but they are not given an aliyah, do not conduct the services, and the k’ria is not displayed publicly. A major festival terminates shiva (for details consult the rabbi). Since Judaism teaches that the feeling of loss of a human life is not limited to the deceased’s family alone, but is shared by the entire community, it is customary at our synagogue for the name of the deceased to be read at a Sabbath service after the funeral.
It is customary for family and friends to arrange for a condolence meal (which traditionally includes round foods such as eggs) to be served to the mourners at the house of mourning when they return from the cemetery. The mourners should not serve as hosts or otherwise entertain their visitors. If requested by the family, the funeral practices committee will arrange this limited meal.
It is customary, as symbols of mourning, for the mirrors in the shiva home to be covered, for the mourners to be provided with lower chairs on which to sit, for a seven-day
|memorial candle to be kindled, and for the mourners to refrain from wearing leather shoes and from shaving. Greetings between mourners and visitors are not normally exchanged.
It is also customary for the mourners to participate in morning, afternoon and evening services in the shiva home during the seven days, except on the Sabbath when mourners attend synagogue services. The mourners may conduct these home services or may designate others to do so. If requested by the family the funeral practices committee will assist in providing for such services.
SHLOSHIM – THE FIRST THIRTY DAYS
SHANNA – THE FIRST YEAR
YAHRZEIT – ANNIVERSARY OF DEATH
YIZKOR – MEMORIAL PRAYERS
Our committee is most eager to add concerned and interested volunteers to its subcommittees on:
· Funeral arrangements
· Cemetery arrangements
· Condolence meals
· Shiva minyanim
Contact the synagogue office to volunteer.
|FULL NAMES: English||FULL NAMES: Hebrew|
|Social Security||Bank Accounts|
|Cards are kept||
|Date of birth||Company|
|Location of birth||Securities|
|Certificate is kept||Name|
|Legal Advisor||Real Estate
|Will is kept||Military Service|
||VA Claim no.|
|Policy Numbers||Government Insurance No
|Policies are kept||Discharge kept at|
|Health and Accident||Cemetery Property|
|Policy Numbers||No. of spaces|
|Policies are kept||Funeral Home|
|Safe Deposit Box:||Funeral Practices Comm. Contract|
|Number||Letter on file|
RELATIVES AND CLOSE FRIENDS who should be notified