Jewish Mourner

What is Forbidden During Shiva?

Is there anything forbidden during Shiva? If you follow the Jewish faith, Shiva marks a profound period of Jewish mourning and reflection following the loss of your loved one. This week-long observance allows you to grieve in a supportive environment with those you care about. However, Shiva has plenty of activities mourners should refrain from to honor this Jewish tradition correctly. Understanding these will help you treat this time with the respect it deserves.

Activities To Avoid During Shiva

Work and Daily Routine Activities

Shiva is a practice that highlights the Jewish belief in the value of life and the importance of honoring those we’ve lost. For this reason, everything pauses in a mourner’s life, including going to work or daily routines. Remember to dedicate this time to mourning, reflection, and spending time with family members.

Grooming and Beauty Treatments

During Shiva, it’s customary to not focus on beauty. Most Jewish families will cover every mirror in their homes and avoid shaving, wearing makeup, or wearing new clothes. By adhering to this tradition, you are displaying your sorrow and reverence, showing that you are focused on honoring your loved one’s memory instead of worrying about your own appearance.

Social Activities Outside Of The House

Mourners traditionally stay in their homes and avoid social activities during Shiva, as this period is meant for contemplation and remembrance. This practice will help you create a private space where your family can support each other without being disturbed by the outside world.

Wearing Leather Shoes

Many mourners avoid wearing leather shoes during Shiva as a sign of humility and a closer connection to the earth. According to this tradition, leather symbolizes luxury and comfort,  which every mourner should avoid when grieving. If you still wish to wear shoes, opt for canvas, rubber, or any other appropriate material.

Engaging in Entertainment and Leisure Activities

Anything involving entertainment and leisure is avoided during Shiva to maintain its sanctity. This challenging time is for the community and family members to come together in support and remembrance. Focusing on your loved one’s life instead of personal enjoyment will help you cope with your loss.

Additional Activities to Avoid

Reflection and remembrance are the core themes of Shiva, and while it may seem obvious that mourners would refrain from certain activities due to their grief, additional acts should intentionally be avoided. This includes intimate relations and tasks associated with laundry. What may seem astonishing, is that necessities, such as basic food preparation should be abstained from as well. 

Learn More About Shiva

Shiva is a significant part of the Jewish mourning process, offering everyone a period to grieve and remember the deceased. If you’re looking for more information about planning or sitting Shiva, our partner Shiva.com is a great resource.  Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels, on Long Island, New York, are also available to provide any assistance that you may need. Please contact us with any questions at 631-454-9600.

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5 Things You Need to Know When Planning Your Own End of Life Care

End-of-life care is a deeply personal and, understandably, difficult topic to discuss for many individuals and their family members. However, preparing everything ahead of time will give you peace of mind and ensure your loved ones will respect your wishes. If you’re looking to start this process, here are five crucial aspects to think about when planning your end-of-life care.

1. Understanding Your Care Options

End-of-life care has many services to support you during your final years. Hospice care, for instance, gives you and your family access to a reliable support system at home or a facility if you’re terminally ill. On the other hand, palliative care focuses on keeping you comfortable and offering treatment if you’re suffering from a serious illness. By learning more about what’s available, you can make a decision that aligns with your needs and preferences.

2. Legal Documents Are Important

Advance directives stating your healthcare preferences beforehand are essential, especially if you’re ever unable to communicate. This includes a living will specifying which treatments doctors can use to keep you alive and a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf. Having these documents will help protect your final wishes and relieve your loved ones from making difficult decisions on your behalf.

3. Financial And Funeral Planning

End-of-life care costs can be expensive, so always plan ahead as a way to reduce your financial burden. Consult with a financial advisor to explore insurance options and learn more about which benefits you’re eligible for under Medicare and Medicaid. Also, you can begin contributing to savings for end-of-life expenses, such as healthcare, or move forward with funeral pre-planning. Once you decide on your plans, including any funeral arrangements made, discuss them with your loved ones to prevent confusion or conflict in the future.

4. Communicating Your Wishes

Openly discussing your end-of-life care plan with your family members is difficult, but it ensures they have an idea of what to do when the time comes. It also gives your loved ones the comfort of knowing that they’re honoring your legacy after you’re gone.

5. Seeking Support

End-of-life planning can be overwhelming when going through it alone. However, professionals like healthcare providers, legal advisors, and spiritual counselors will offer valuable resources when you need them. Many support groups or counseling services also provide emotional support for anyone going through this process.

Create An End-Of-Life Plan That’s Best For You

Planning your end-of-life care is an emotional process. But when you understand how the process works, start early, and get the support you need, you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure your final years are peaceful. If you need information related to the cost of a funeral, basic services fees, or you’re considering funeral pre-planning and need further assistance, our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels, on Long Island, New York, are here to answer your questions. Please contact us at 631-454-9600.

Jewish Caskets in a room

Jewish Caskets Have No Nails

In Jewish tradition, the preparation of the deceased for burial is a sacred ritual governed by strict religious laws and customs. One of the most notable customs is the use of a simple wooden casket, known as an “aron,” which is carefully crafted without the use of any nails or metal fasteners. This tradition has been passed down for generations and still practiced today. So why not include nails in the construction of Jewish caskets? Here are several reasons behind this unique tradition.

Why are Jewish Caskets Constructed without nails?

Firstly, people believe that the absence of nails in Jewish caskets symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the deceased’s life. The use of nails is seen as a form of vanity, as it adds unnecessary embellishment to the casket, detracting from its primary purpose of providing a dignified and respectful resting place for the deceased. By using wooden dowels instead of metal fastenings, the focus remains solely on the deceased and their journey to the afterlife.

Secondly, the absence of nails serves a practical purpose. In Jewish tradition, customs require the body return directly to the earth, without the use of a burial vault. This allows the body to return to the earth as quickly as possible. Beliefs state that the soul cannot rest until the body has fully decomposed. By using a wooden casket with no nails, the body can decompose more quickly and return to the earth in a more natural and timely manner.

Thirdly, the absence of nails is rooted in the belief that the body is treated with the utmost respect and dignity, even in death. In Jewish tradition, the body is  a vessel for the soul. Therefore, treated with the same reverence and care afforded to a living person. The use of a wooden casket with no nails is a way of honoring the deceased and showing respect for their body.

Overall, the tradition of wooden funeral caskets with no nails in Jewish burials is a reflection of the deep respect and reverence that Jewish tradition holds for the deceased and their journey to the afterlife. By using a simple and unadorned casket, the focus remains solely on the deceased and their journey to the afterlife, allowing them to rest in peace.

How Star of David Memorial Chapels’ Funeral Caskets Comply

Each of our funeral caskets conforms to Halachic (Jewish) law in that they are manufactured completely free of metal. Instead of long nails, wooden dowels and glue hold the caskets together. What may change is the species of wood from which the casket is made, the workmanship and detail, and the type of finish. A casket should be chosen based on your budget and what you deem an appropriate choice.

We Can Help!

Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, will guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for pre-planning, making funeral arrangements, or selections aligned with Jewish traditions, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.

Celebrating Thanksgiving After the Loss of a Loved One

Celebrating Thanksgiving after the Loss of a Loved One

Celebrating Thanksgiving After the Loss of a Loved One

Is it possible to partake in celebrating Thanksgiving after the loss of a loved one? Whether it be soon after a death occurred or years later, the profound loss of someone close to you can affect how you approach this time of gratitude, togetherness and positive spirits. 

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to gather with family members and friends, sharing in the joy of laughter, good food, and meaningful conversations. But how can we honor this cherished holiday when our hearts are aching from the absence of a loved one who is no longer physically present?

First and foremost, it is essential to acknowledge that grief takes many forms and it is different for everyone. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating this holiday. Each individual’s journey is unique, and it is essential to honor and respect your own emotions and personal needs.

There are several meaningful ways to manage celebrating Thanksgiving after the loss of a loved one. Take into consideration the following suggestions:

1. Visit the Cemetery

Holidays are the perfect opportunities to visit the cemetery. Many people attend the burial and the unveiling on the anniversary of the death. But over time, trips to the cemetery may become few and far between for various reasons. The days surrounding Thanksgiving are convenient to many due to the time off from work or school,  and especially if they are traveling from out of town to see other family members  living near the cemetery. 
 

2. Share Memories

During the day’s festivities, take the time to celebrate the life of and share cherished memories of your loved one. This can be done around the dinner table or in a more private setting. Sharing stories that embody their spirit and impact can help keep their memory alive and foster a sense of connection between family members and friends. 

3. Volunteer or Give Back 

Honor your loved one’s memory by engaging in acts of kindness and giving back to the community. Consider volunteering at a local shelter or donating to a cause that held a special place in their heart. This not only helps you find comfort in assisting others but also perpetuates the values your loved one carried.

4. Start New Traditions 

While maintaining some of the cherished traditions, it can also be healing to introduce new customs to your Thanksgiving celebration. Whether it’s trying out a new recipe, or going for a family hike, these novel traditions can create opportunities for joy and bonding, even in the midst of grief.

5. Practice Self-Care 

Self-care plays an integral role in coping with loss. Embrace the significance of this holiday by taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Engage in activities that bring you comfort, such as journaling, meditation, or seeking the counsel of a trusted friend or counselor.

Remember that each person’s grief journey is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to approach Thanksgiving after losing a loved one. The most important thing is to find moments of solace, connection, and gratitude amongst the pain. Reach out to your support system, lean on your community, and be kind to yourself.

Star of David Memorial Chapels is Here to Help!

Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are here to guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for funeral pre-planning, making funeral arrangements, or providing resources, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.

  
Star of David Memorial Chapel Managing Grief

Mourning During Tragic Events: Navigating through Collective Grief

Mourning during tragic events differs from mourning an individual loss. In times of great tragedy, such as the loss of multiple lives, it becomes crucial to come together as a community to mourn and heal. There are several ways to navigate through the overwhelming grief, including finding support and implementing coping mechanisms to get through heart-wrenching events.

1. Acknowledge and validate your emotions

Grieving is a natural response to loss, and when faced with the loss of many lives, it is perfectly normal to experience a whirlwind of emotions. Allow yourself to acknowledge these emotions and understand that they are valid. Avoid suppressing or ignoring them, as it is essential to process grief in a healthy and constructive manner.

2. Seek support from others

During times of tragedy, leaning on the support of others is crucial. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who can empathize with your emotions. Expressing your feelings and listening to others can provide solace and help in healing together as a community.

3. Create a support network

Organize gatherings or create virtual platforms where people affected by the tragedy can connect and share their experiences. This support network can offer a safe space for individuals to express their emotions without judgment. Coming together as a community helps build resilience and promotes healing.

4. Practice self-care

While grieving, it is important not to overlook self-care. Engaging in activities that provide comfort and solace can help alleviate the pain experienced during this challenging time. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, spending time in nature, or seeking professional counseling if needed, taking care of yourself is paramount in processing and overcoming profound grief.

5. Share stories and celebrate lives

Remembering the lives lost by sharing stories, photos, and fond memories can contribute to the healing process. Organize memorial events or create online memorials, allowing people to reflect on the positive impact those individuals had on their lives. Celebrating their legacies becomes a way to honor their memory and bring the community closer together.

Working Towards healing

Navigating through the unimaginable pain of losing many lives after a tragedy is undeniably challenging. However, by acknowledging and validating our emotions, seeking support, and practicing self-care, we can gradually find solace and healing.

Remember, the process of mourning is unique to each individual, and it is important to be patient with ourselves and one another as we collectively work towards healing and resilience.

We Are Here To Help

Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are here to guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for funeral pre-planning, making funeral arrangements, or providing grief resources, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.

Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse

Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse

Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse

Overcoming the loss of a spouse is undoubtedly one of life’s most heartbreaking and challenging experiences. Suddenly, the life you had built together is shattered, leaving you feeling lost, alone, and uncertain of how to move forward. While the pain may never completely fade, we firmly believe that healing is possible, and a meaningful life can be rediscovered.

1. Acknowledging and Processing Grief:

Grief is a complex emotion, and it is essential to allow yourself the time and space to mourn, grieve, and come to terms with your loss. It’s okay to experience deep sadness, anger, confusion, and even moments of denial. Seek comfort in your loved ones and consider joining a support group or talking to a grief counselor who can provide guidance during this difficult period.

2. Finding Strength in Connections:

Amid sorrow, surround yourself with a strong support system. Family members, friends, and even online communities can provide immense comfort and companionship during this challenging journey. Share your feelings, share memories, and allow yourself to lean on others whenever you need support. Compassionate connections can help you gradually rebuild your life and find optimism once again.

3. Rediscovering Yourself:

After the loss of a spouse, it’s essential to rediscover your identity and redefine your purpose. Everyone’s journey towards healing is unique, but finding joy outside of your relationship can be instrumental in getting back on your feet. Explore personal hobbies, engage in activities that bring you fulfillment, and consider volunteering or joining a club to meet new people who share similar interests.

4. Embracing Self-Care:

Grieving takes a tremendous toll on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Prioritizing self-care is crucial as you navigate this difficult path. Take the time to nurture your mind and body with healthy habits such as exercise, proper nutrition, meditation, and journaling. Remember, self-compassion and self-love play a vital role in healing.

5. Reflecting on the Memories:

While loss brings immense pain, it is crucial not to let it overshadow the beautiful memories you shared with your spouse. Cherish their legacy, their love, and the impact they had on your life. Celebrate their life by creating a memorial, sharing stories, or engaging in activities that hold a special significance to both of you.

6. Seeking Professional Help:

If feelings of grief and loss become overwhelming or prolonged, it’s essential to seek professional help. Grief counseling or therapy can provide guidance on coping strategies and offer a safe space to express emotions, facilitating the healing process. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

We understand that the journey of overcoming the loss of a spouse is challenging, and there is no single roadmap to healing. But by embracing hope, connecting with others, and taking small steps forward, it is possible to navigate the labyrinth of grief and find meaning and peace once again.

 We Are Here To Help!

Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are here to guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for funeral pre-planning, making funeral arrangements, or providing grief resources, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.



What to Write in a Condolence or Sympathy Card

What to Write in a Condolence or Sympathy Card

What to Write in a Condolence or Sympathy Card

Determining how to communicate with someone when a death has occurred may leave you perplexed. When someone you know experiences a loss, one way to show your support and care is by sending a condolence or sympathy card. However, it can be challenging to find the right words to express your condolences. You don’t want to upset the recipient, but you also want them to know that you are here for them and thinking of them during this difficult time. Here are a few tips on what to write in a condolence or sympathy card that will let the recipient know they are in your thoughts.


Start with a Personal Greeting

Address the recipient by name and using a salutation such as, “Dear [their name(s)].” 


Express Your Feelings

Start the condolence or sympathy card by acknowledging the loss and expressing your sympathy. You can use phrases like, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” “My heart is with you and your family,” or “Please accept my deepest condolences.” These phrases will let the recipient know that you care and that you are sorry for what they are going through.


Share a Memory or a Thought

If you knew the deceased well or have a personal connection, it can be useful to share a fond memory or thought about the person who passed away. This will help the person receiving the card know that you understand and appreciate the person they lost.


Offer Support

Offering support can mean a lot to someone, even if it’s just telling them that you are here for them. A simple “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you during this time” or “I’m here whenever you need to talk” can be enough.


Sign Off with Care

When you sign off from your condolence or sympathy card, make sure you include your name and a thoughtful message. You can use phrases like, “With love and sympathy,” “Thinking of you always,” or “Sincerely.” Make sure that you sign off in an appropriate manner, based on your relationship to the recipient(s) which can be a family member, friend, colleague, or other relation.

You are Now Ready to Write (and carry out other thoughtful gestures)

Writing a condolence or sympathy card can be challenging, but it can also be an incredibly meaningful way to show your support and care. Remember to start with a personal greeting, express your feelings, share a memory or thought, offer support, and sign off with care. With these tips, you’ll be able to write a heartfelt condolence or sympathy card that lets the recipient know you are there for them during this difficult time.


Additional ways to share your sentiments and support would be to send or bring an appropriate gift while the mourner is sitting shiva or to make a donation to a charity of their choice. Another thoughtful gesture is to send a thinking of you card on the anniversary of the death, or Yahrzeit. 


Contact our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, with any other questions surrounding Jewish funerals. Our team will be happy to help you. Call us today at 631-454-9600.

WHY ARE MIRRORS COVERED DURING SHIVA?

Why are Mirrors Covered During Shiva?

WHY ARE MIRRORS COVERED DURING SHIVA?

Have you ever seen the mirrors covered during a shiva call and wondered, “Why are mirrors covered during shiva?” One of the most commonly asked shiva-related questions is easily explained. 

In times of mourning, Jewish customs and rituals provide comfort and guidance for grieving families. One such tradition that Jews observe during the Jewish mourning period of Shiva is the covering of mirrors. The profound significance behind this practice dates back centuries with several reasons why there is valuable symbolism for those mourning the loss of a loved one.

1. Honoring the Deceased:

The customs and rituals observed during the Jewish mourning period of Shiva are designed to honor and remember the life of the recently deceased. By covering mirrors in the house, mourners redirect their focus towards reflection and introspection, rather than vanity and personal appearance. This act helps mourners remember values and virtues embodied by the departed, fostering an atmosphere of remembrance and reverence.

2. Focusing Inward:

During the Shiva period, mourners are encouraged to turn their attention inward, reflecting on their emotions and memories of the departed. By covering mirrors, Jewish tradition symbolically reminds mourners to avoid distractions caused by their outward appearance. This allows for meaningful self-reflection, fostering an environment conducive to spiritual and emotional healing.

3. Diminishing the Boundary Between Worlds:

The loss of a loved one often leaves us yearning for connection and understanding. Covering mirrors during Shiva is believed to help diminish the boundary between the physical and spiritual realms. Many believe that by blocking one’s reflection, mourners can easily connect with the departed soul, enabling a sense of closeness and continuity beyond the physical world.

4. Respecting Privacy:

Shiva is a time of deep vulnerability. Therefore, as mourners grapple with sorrow and grief, it is important to provide them with a safe, private space for mourning and reflection. Covering mirrors serves as a symbolic reminder of the need for privacy during this sensitive time, shielding mourners from their reflections and allowing them to process emotions without unnecessary distractions.

5. Embracing Impermanence:

Covering mirrors also serves as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life. Judaism teaches that material possessions are ultimately transient. Thus, by momentarily concealing mirrors, mourners acknowledge and accept the impermanence of physical appearances and worldly attachments. Through this practice, Jewish tradition encourages individuals to focus on the everlasting essence of the soul and the memories shared with the departed loved one.

We Are Here To Help!

Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are here to guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for funeral pre-planning, funeral arrangements, or providing Shiva resources, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.

 
How to Help A Grieving Child

How to Help A Grieving Child

How to Help A Grieving Child

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking, and the situation becomes more complex when you are dealing with how to help a grieving child. Helping children navigate the complex emotions associated with grief and loss can be an overwhelming task. As a Jewish funeral home, our mission goes beyond providing funeral services; we aim to support families during their most vulnerable times. Here we explore the unique perspective of assisting children throughout the mourning process within the context of Jewish traditions and funeral customs.

1. Honoring Jewish Funeral Customs:

Judaism places great importance on mourning rituals, providing structure and support during times of grief. Our website contains resources that aim to educate children and their families about Jewish customs, such as Shiva, Kaddish, and Yahrzeit. We explain the significance of these practices and how they help preserve memories and provide comfort during the grieving process.

2. Creating a Safe and Open Environment:

Children process grief differently from adults and may require a safe space to express their emotions freely.  Strive to create an environment where children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns without judgment. By fostering an atmosphere of trust and compassion, you can guide them towards understanding and acceptance as they cope with their loss.

3. Age-Appropriate Explanations:

When dealing with how to help a grieving child, it is crucial to offer age-appropriate explanations about death and the grieving process. Use clarity and sensitivity in your conversations, ensuring that children understand the concept of death in a way that aligns with their emotional development. By using simple language and compassionate communication,  children gradually grasp the reality of their loved one’s passing and its implications.

4. Encouraging Grief Expression:

Allowing children to express their grief in their own unique ways is essential for their healing journey. There are  various forms of grief expression, including art therapy, journaling, and storytelling. By encouraging children to express their emotions creatively, you are providing them with an outlet to process their feelings and explore healthy coping mechanisms.

5. Inclusion in Funeral Ceremonies:

Children are often actively involved in the funeral and mourning rituals. However, children should have the opportunity to participate when they feel comfortable and willing. Inclusion can range from performing symbolic actions during the funeral service or contributing to the eulogy. Participating in these rituals can help children find closure, gain a sense of belonging, and honor their loved one’s memory.

6. Supporting Siblings and Peers:

When a child experiences loss, their siblings and peers may also be affected deeply. You can  support siblings by providing resources and opportunities for them to connect with other children who have experienced similar losses. Group counseling sessions, playdates, or grief camps can help facilitate discussions and foster a sense of belonging and understanding among these young individuals.

Star Of David Memorial Chapels Is Here To Help!

Grief and loss impact children differently than adults, requiring a unique approach to help them navigate this profound life experience. Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are here to guide you through difficult times. Whether it is for funeral pre-planning, making funeral arrangements, or providing grief resources that aid in how to help a grieving child, we are here for you. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.