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What Happens if Death Occurred Just Prior to, or During a Jewish Holiday?

With the high holidays just a few weeks away, it’s likely that you have already started your planning. Any impending holiday leaves you with questions such as what to serve and which family members or friends to invite over. When approaching each holiday, those of the Jewish faith also typically focus on connecting with their heritage and spending time with family. Many people are familiar with the prayers, the customs, and the traditional fare, but there may come a holiday that one finds themselves asking, “what happens if there is a death at this time?” 

According to Jewish tradition, a funeral takes place as soon as possible after the death, usually no later than 24-hours. However, this changes if death occurs on or during a holiday. Funerals are generally not held on the festival days of Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, the first/second/last days of other festivals, or on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. They would have to take place afterwards. 

Besides funerals, the presence of a holiday will affect shiva as well. Shiva, the seven-day period of Jewish mourning, begins immediately following the burial and concludes on the seventh day. This remains true if a death occurs just prior to a holiday, but any observance is completed once the holiday begins, regardless of how much time was dedicated to shiva. If a death/burial occurs during a festival (when permitted), the shiva will begin the evening after the conclusion of the holiday.  

If death occurred on or just before a holiday, without the mourner’s knowledge, shiva will still not begin until after the holiday concludes. While this material serves to provide you with general information, the funeral directors or rabbi will be able to offer you guidance about funeral arrangements and shiva, should you find yourself in a situation where you lose a loved one around a holiday.  

We’re Here to Help! 

We are located near Jewish cemeteries on Long Island (Wellwood, Beth Moses, Mt. Ararat, New Montefiore). If you are in the area, please feel free to stop by or contact us (631-454-9600) regarding any of your questions pertaining to Jewish funerals.