As a family-owned Jewish funeral provider, we understand Jewish burial customs and religious significance associated with Jewish funeral tradition. When you choose Star of David Memorial, you will have the assurance that you and your family will be served with the utmost respect and in accordance with the Jewish funeral and burial customs that are important to you.
After Death: Jewish Death Rituals
After you call your Jewish Star of David Memorial Chapel Funeral Director, the first person to be called should be your rabbi or the deceased’s rabbi. A Shomer or “watchman” stays with the deceased from the time of death until the funeral and burial. Star of David Memorial has people available to serve as Shomereim and will arrange for this service, if the family wishes.
Star of David Memorial Chapel will coordinate a time for the service that allows for the family’s needs, as well as the time constraints of the rabbi and cemetery. Depending upon a congregation’s policy, a service may be held in the temple or synagogue. Many people today are opting for services at the cemetery only. Because we at Star of David Memorial specialize in graveside services, we are prepared for and can accommodate any size service.
Traditional Jewish Funeral Customs
Respect is always shown to the deceased as well as toward the mourners. This is one of the reasons why Traditional Jewish funerals are held so soon after death. It is more respectful to inter the body within a reasonable amount of time rather than having an unnecessary delay. This is a decision the family should make in consultation with their rabbi. Funerals usually last about twenty minutes and consist of the recitation of psalms, scripture readings and a eulogy.
We accompany the deceased to their final resting place. The tradition is that the Kaddish prayer is not recited until after the casket has been lowered, and the grave filled. Dating back to Biblical times, the preference for Jewish people has been earth burial, and that Jewish funeral custom remains strong today. In some parts of the country, above ground mausoleum entombments are popular; when a family chooses to have entombment, they should check with their rabbi, as some are reluctant to officiate at a mausoleum.
Choosing a casket is a very emotional and personal decision. You are, in essence, forced to decide upon the last item you will ever be purchasing for your loved one. Additionally, everyone’s set of circumstances is different. We at Star of David recognize the difficulty in making this decision and want to provide information to assist you in making the best decision, especially in light of your particular set of circumstances. Please contact us at any time with any questions you may have.
Following the Burial
There are many Jewish burial customs and traditions, many based on superstition, that surround the returning from the cemetery. Because many of these are just that, customs, it is best to discuss these with your rabbi.
Shiva, The First Period of Mourning
Shiva means seven and is the period of mourning immediately following the burial. Tradition is that the day of burial counts as the first day of Shiva, which continues for seven days. Although no public mourning is observed on Shabbat, the Sabbath and Holidays count in the seven days. Many festivals affect the observance of Shiva and your rabbi will be best qualified to explain how they affect a particular situation.
During Shiva, mourners remain at home and the Jewish community comes and offers comfort to them. The only time a mourner is supposed to leave the home is on Shabbat to attend services in the Synagogue. During the Shiva period the community comes into the mourner’s home and it is there that the three daily (morning, afternoon and evening) services are held. The Kaddish prayer is recited during these services and it is interesting to note how much comfort is derived from the recitation of the Kaddish prayer.
Shloshim, The Second Period of Mourning
Shloshim, which means thirty in Hebrew, is the thirty days following the burial, with the day of the burial counting as the first day. Usually then, Shiva is the first seven days of Shloshim. As with Shiva, some festivals affect the Shloshim period, and your rabbi will advise you how a festival impacts on a particular situation.
At the conclusion of Shiva, Shloshim serves as a period of re-entry into the world of the living for the mourner. This is the time when the mourner returns to work or school and begins to start living without their loved one. During Shloshim, the mourner traditionally avoids music, gaiety and other forms of celebrations. Your rabbi will help you with specific questions that may arise, such as what happens if a previously scheduled wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah occurs during the Shloshim period.
The annual anniversary of the death of a person is called the Yahrzeit and is traditionally observed based on the Hebrew calendar. Star of David Memorial sends a reminder in the mail a few weeks before the Yahrzeit. The yahrzeit is observed by lighting a twenty-four hour candle the evening before the day of the yahrzeit, and most people recite the Kaddish and take a few moments of introspection and thought. Most congregations recite the name of the deceased whose yahrzeit is being observed during the Shabbat services closest to the date.
Unveiling/Dedication of the Marker – A Jewish Death Ritual
Although there is nothing in traditional Judaism that requires an unveiling or dedication service, most families choose to have some sort of ceremony when the grave marker or headstone is put in place. We are required by tradition to mark the grave of a deceased and consider this process a part of the Jewish death ritual, and the most common time for this to take place is close to the first yahrzeit. But, Traditionally, any time after Shloshim, the marker or monument can be set in place. There are some authorities that allow the installation of the marker or monument to take place at the conclusion of Shiva.
A Matzava, or headstone, can be as elaborate or as simple as the family wishes, so long as it conforms to the rules and regulations of the cemetery. Most often the person’s Hebrew name is inscribed along with the dates of birth and death. Your rabbi will be helpful in having the deceased’s Hebrew name correctly inscribed in the monument, as well as helping you prepare an unveiling ceremony if you choose not to have a rabbi officiate. Star of David Memorial can help you select an appropriate memorial for the grave.
Visiting the Grave
Judaism teaches that mourners should not show excessive grief and should avoid deifying the deceased. To this end, cemetery visitation should not be too frequent. Some authorities have said that the first time a mourner can return to the grave is after Shloshim, while others say a mourner may visit the grave at the conclusion of Shiva.
It is traditional that when one attends a burial, visiting the graves of others who are buried there is not done. Not visiting other graves is out of respect to the person who is being buried, as well as to the person previously interred. Exceptions to this rule would be if the people have come from a far distance or if to make another trip cause undue hardship.
Learn the tradition behind why Jews leave stones or pebbles on a grave.
Selection of a Cemetery
Many times, a family is faced with a sudden or an unanticipated death and they do not have cemetery property. Star of David Memorial can help you make the necessary arrangements for purchasing a grave. The selection of a cemetery is one that should not be made in haste. There are many factors to be considered before a final choice of a cemetery is made.
There are benefits that may be available to a family at the time of death and these are subject to change. We can advise you about the current benefits and whether you or your family qualify, and we will assist in filing for and obtaining any benefits to which you may be entitled.
Veterans’ benefits are slightly more complicated, but again, we will help you understand each of the benefits as they may apply to your situation. Where and under what circumstances the death occurs will determine the amount.
Some people have life insurance or other benefits through their employment or union that are payable upon death. We will assist you in contacting the issuing company and can advise you as to how to go about applying for any benefits that may be available.
Preparing for the Future
It is not at all unusual for people to plan for their financial future, and there are many forms that this planning takes. An important part of planning for the future should include the discussion of what you and your family’s wishes are for a funeral. Star of David Memorial offers methods of a funeral through a trust fund. Each state has different rules and regulations that govern how these trusts and policies can be established. Your funeral director will explain how this will affect your situation.
By through Star of David Memorial Jewish Funeral Home Long Island, you can be assured that your wishes will be carried out as you specifically expressed. In addition, we are able to guarantee that the price you pay now will provide the services you select, no matter when they need to be provided. We have flexible payment programs and any of our qualified funeral directors can explain in detail how this plan can fit into your financial planning.
In today’s ever-changing economic environment, there are times when asset management becomes critically important. Many people need to use the services of nursing homes and sometimes need to apply for various forms of public assistance. In each of these instances, a pre-paid, guaranteed funeral trust Star of David Memorial can be used to meet the financial restrictions that some of these benefits impose. We’re here to assist you with any aspect of planning for proper Jewish burial customs and to make this time easier for you and your family.
More on Judaism Burial Practices.