When Hanukkah is on the horizon, we think about all the good times and great traditions that come with it. The last thing on our minds is funerals and what would happen should a death occur during this joyous holiday. But we can experience death and mourning at any time and the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is no exception. Learn more about funerals and shiva during Hanukkah.
What Happens if Someone Dies During Hanukkah?
The Hanukkah celebration lasts for eight nights. Unfortunately, death can happen just before or during this time. If so, since a Jewish burial takes place within 24-48 hours after the death occurred, the funeral and shiva will inevitably overlap with the holiday. And the presence of the holiday would not change this timing. The only timeframe during Hanukkah that a funeral or shiva would not be permissible is Shabbat, similar to non-holiday rules.
Is Shiva Affected by Hanukkah?
As with Shabbat, the Jewish holidays have nuances pertaining to funerals and the mourning period, shiva. Some holidays like Yom Kippur and Passover, have more specific changes than others. Hanukkah does not disrupt sitting shiva or the ability to pay a shiva call. The practice of receiving support and comfort from friends and family members is perfectly acceptable throughout the holiday.
Open acts of mourning, such as torn clothing or wearing a black ribbon, are not carried out during festivals such as Hanukkah.
Is it Okay to Have a Holiday Meal Together?
Some families honor their deceased loved ones while gathering together for a holiday meal during Hanukkah. Acknowledging and participating in the festive holiday meal while reminiscing allows the living to celebrate the life of the departed in a joyful way.
Do We Still Light the Menorah?
On Hanukkah, it is acceptable for mourners to kindle the menorah and say a prayer in remembrance of the decedent. Families who have recently lost a member may choose not to light the menorah to express their grief. This practice symbolically reflects the decreased light in the home due to the deceased’s absence.
Can We Attend Hanukkah Services with the Congregation?
During shiva, the family refrains from making public appearances and remains in their home. Fortunately, we mainly celebrate Hanukkah within the home. Although the mourners are welcome to attend holiday services, they should not take on any leadership roles. Any holiday activities performed by the family during this time of grieving should be done respectfully and in accordance with a state of mourning.
Hanukkah Enables the Connection to Loved Ones Even if You are Grieving
The true spirit of Hanukkah is about being grateful for what we have in our lives – and honoring those who are no longer with us. We celebrate Hanukkah by spending time with family, which is also done when we attend funerals and sit shiva.
Assistance is Available if You Need It
What families experiencing a loss observe varies based on individual beliefs and religious practices. A rabbi can confirm the procedures for a funeral or shiva if you encounter a death around holiday time.
Contact our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, if you have any questions about planning Jewish funerals during Hanukkah. Our team will guide you through every step of the process and will be happy to answer any questions. Call us today at 631-454-9600.