What Is Yahrzeit

Yahrzeit is a long-running Jewish tradition of honoring the death of a love one on the yearly anniversary (according to the Jewish calendar) of death for what is usually a full day. The Jewish calendar deviates from the English calendar, and it’s critically important, for tradition’s sake, to get that date correct. This is quickly accomplished with a yahrzeit calendar. The major caveat between the two calendar types is that during leap year, the Jewish Calendar adds one month.

Yahrzeit observance gives the grieving family a chance to reflect and mourn, but also an opportunity to celebrate and honor the memory of the person they loved. Sitting Shiva immediately after a loved one’s passing does not afford this opportunity.

As with many orthodox Jewish traditions, there are several rules to abide to ensure observance is considered proper. For starters, you are not to consume meat or wine during Yahrzeit. Also, it is expected that a traditional Yahrzeit candle should be lit during this observance, as it is believed to represent the soul of the loved one who was lost. Burning a candle for a period of twenty-four hours starting on the eve of the anniversary of the death of the person being observed is also tradition.

It is also customary that each person in observance say the Mourner’s Kaddish during the Yahrzeit. Most people visit the gravesite of the person being observed during Yahrzeit as long as it is reasonable to do so at that particular time. It is highly preferred that family members in mourning will read, pray and speak at the yahrzeit cemetery visit rather than calling on a rabbi to speak.

This custom continues to take place every year on the anniversary of the person’s passing.

How to Choose a Jewish Cemetery Monument

Choosing a monument for your loved one’s unveiling ceremony is an important step in the planning.  By designing a cemetery monument, you are reflecting the life of your loved one that will be carried on for decades. Selecting the right Jewish monument is not a quick process and has a lot of thought and time that goes into it. Here is are some considerations to prepare you make this long-lasting choice.

Some people opt to pre-plan their own monuments to spare their families the expense and to have control of how they are remembered.

Step One

Start by determining the requirements and regulations of your cemetery. Many cemeteries have monument size and shape requirements based on the number of graves owned and some cemeteries only allow specific colors of granite. Once you understand these factors, establish your budget. Your options include a single, double or triple headstone, benches, bronze plaques, footstones, ledgers, beds and upright headstones.

Step Two

Determine the color of granite and material for the monument. Granite is a common material for its durability. The material and color will also influence the monument’s appearance. Make sure that your budget aligns with the granite color and material you choose.

Step Three

 Decide what should be inscribed on the monument. You should provide your loved one’s name, birth date and any other relevant information. If you plan to share a headstone, you can engrave additional names or dates after they have passed.

Step Four

 If you want to make your monument more personalized, you can decide on:

  • Is there a specific shape of stone that you prefer?
  • Do you want to add any personal elements to reflect your loved one? Photos can be captured in ceramic or be used to create an etching on the headstone.
  • Would you like to inscribe a religious verse?

A custom memorial provided can usually accommodate most design requests.

Grieving a Loss? Resources to Help You Cope

Grief is a painful process and one that everyone deals with in very different ways.  When we lose someone close to us, we enter a world of grief and mourning.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve or official mourning period. The way in which you grieve is the way you need to in order to get through this difficult time.

There are said to be different stages of grieve that include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many books have been written about these stages such as Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ “On Death and Dying.”  Kubler-Ross’ main theory is that no two people experience these five stages in precisely the same way. For some, denial can take minutes; for others, decades.

Another helpful book is written by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning.” Rabbi Lamm explores a myriad of issues connected to grief and mourning. He writes about the process of mourning and how we deal with the death of a close relative as time goes by. He says at one point we experience an uncommon confusion, a dislocation, a form of discontinuity. We are disoriented. “Disorientation” is what grief is all about when we are now struggling to deal with this new reality and life without our loved one.

Now more than ever, our loved ones need our support. The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is simply be present. Your support and caring will help a loved one during this difficult time and help him or her begin to heal.

What Is Grief Counseling? Techniques and How It Helps: https://online.maryville.edu/blog/grief-counseling

There are many other books and resources to consult during the healing process. Visit the website of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha for a list resources and educational materials:  https://www.nasck.org/resources-education.

There are many helpful organizations and websites, such as https://grief.com  that provide support to people who are mourning. Many synagogues and Jewish communities have grief support groups, which are often coordinated through the local Jewish federation. Visit to learn more:  https://www.jewishfederations.org.

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After a Burial

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

handsShiva 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 ShivaShloshim 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.

Yahrzeit

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.

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

stones_or_pebbles_on_gravestoneJudaism 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

jewish-cemeteryMany 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.

Death Benefits

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

jewish-handsIt 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 pre-planning a funeral 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.

Unusual Issues Concerning Jewish Burial

From time to time, some uncommon issues surrounding the deceased’s circumstances arise, presenting questions and/or conflicts with traditional Jewish funeral customs. Sometimes the concern regards the wishes of the family and other times the actual cause of death.

One such situation concerns cremation. Cremation is a bit of a subjective area in most Jewish communities. There is no specific law or mandate against cremation in Judaism; however, there are specific procedures for handling a deceased body which, when followed, would all but rule out cremation. That being said, more and more Jewish people are opting for cremation these days. Those unfamiliar with Jewish burial customs may be surprised to learn autopsies are also considered to be forbidden in Judaism in many orthodox circles, unless there is some sort of extenuating circumstance. However, organ donation is permissible when done to save another person – not for scientific study purposes. You can see that most of these issues today are not so black and white as they once were.

One subject that was traditionally definitive is suicide. Any person whose death is caused by suicide cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery, according to Jewish law. However, today, if the person was considered mentally ill, an exception can be made in certain cases. There are also instances when individuals bearing tattoos and body piercings were normally discouraged in Jewish tradition (not law), because the markings are considered body mutilation, but that never actually bars anyone from being buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Another area where there has been some inconsistency over the years is with non-Jewish spouses of deceased Jewish people. It has long been of question whether they could be buried alongside their spouses in a Jewish cemetery. In the past, this was not allowed in many cemeteries, as no non-Jew could be buried in an orthodox Jewish cemetery under any circumstances. However, many modern day Jewish cemeteries will allow this today.

Mourner’s Kaddish

What is a Kaddish?

The Kaddish is a hymn of praises to God found in Jewish prayer services. The oldest version of the Kaddish is found in the Siddur of Rab Amram Gaon, c. 900. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name.

“Mourner’s Kaddish” is said at all prayer services and certain other occasions. It is written in Aramaic. It takes the form of Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba, and is traditionally recited several times, most prominently at or towards the end of the service.

Customs for reciting Mourner’s Kaddish vary among the different communities, though most congregations have all the mourners stand and chant the Kaddish together. Reciting the Kaddish together is sometimes said to be for those victims of the Holocaust who have no one left to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish on their behalf.

It is important to note that Mourner’s Kaddish does not mention death at all, but instead praises God. Though the Kaddish is often referred to as the “Jewish Prayer for the Dead.” However that more accurately describes the prayer called “El Malei Rachamim”, which specifically prays for the soul of the deceased.

This version of the Kaddish is recited at graveside mourner’s, immediately following the burial:

Translation:

Exalted and hallowed be His great Name. (Congregation responds: “Amen.”)

In the world which He will create anew, where He will revive the dead, construct His temple, deliver life, and rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and uproot foreign idol worship from His land, and restore the holy service of Heaven to its place, along with His radiance, splendor and Shechinah, and may He bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach. (Cong: “Amen.”)

In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, sword, famine and death shall cease from us and from the entire Jewish nation, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.

(Cong: “Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity, blessed.”)

May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted and extolled, honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He. (Cong: “Amen.”)

Beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and a good life for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)

*He Who makes peace (Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur substitute: “the peace”) in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)

Dealing With A Jewish Death

Introduction

Adjusting to the death of a loved one can be a very difficult process. This article is provided to help you deal with the problems and processes surrounding a death in the easiest and simplest manner possible.

Although some major decisions are unavoidable at this time, many can be put off until you are feeling less vulnerable. When a death has occurred, there is usually a need to administer the estate of the decedent. Every estate should be considered unique and not all estates will have administrative duties. Some small estates, under particular circumstances, will not even require administration.

If there are multiple beneficiaries or heirs, make every effort to keep them informed of your actions on their behalf and consult with them, if possible, especially where there is no Will.

The responsibility will be great and the anxiety will remain for months but through careful planning, expert advice and family support, you can resolve the duties in a manner that will provide you with personal satisfaction.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a legal counsel or an accountant, which should be sought on specific manners. It has been provided by the Tribute Foundation of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.

 

After the Funeral, Now What

Death Certificates:

You will need several copies of certified death certificates. The easiest way to obtain a copy is to ask the funeral director for assistance. The cost of each copy varies by county; $10 to $30 each.

Caring for the Deceased’s Property:

When a person dies, it is important to account for the deceased person’s property, making sure it is safe and protected. If the person lived alone, make arrangements to stop newspaper deliveries and have mail forwarded or held at the post office for daily pickup.

The matter of who will inherit the deceased’s property is determined by the estate planning arrangements that were made by the person during their lifetime.

Immediate Financial Concerns

At some point after the funeral, there will be financial concerns that will need to be dealt with. Listed below are some of the items you should expect will need to be handled:

  • Utility Bills: Make sure to pay utility bills to ensure continued service.
  • Medical Bills: These bills are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or a medical insurance.
  • Long Term Debts: Be sure to make regular payments on long term debts such as mortgages, car loans, or retail installment contracts until the estate settles.
  • Access to Bank Accounts: If the deceased was the only one authorized to sign, the monies at banks or financial institutions may not be immediately available.
  • Stocks and Bonds: US Savings Bonds are often payable upon death.
  • Stock Shares: Consult a stockbroker or legal/financial advisor for more information.
  • Safe Deposit Box: Anyone who has the right of access to that box may open that box. Make accurate records of any contents that are removed.
  • Life Insurance: Proceeds are usually paid to the name beneficiaries within a few weeks after filing the required forms.
  • Inventory of Assets: Compile a very complete and detailed listing of all the assets of the deceased, the value at time of death, and the "fair market value".
  • Real Estate: It would be wise to consult a Real Estate Agent or Appraiser at this time.
  • Stocks and Bonds: List all shares of stock, bonds, notes payable to the deceased and other securities.
  • Cash/Financial Institutions: List the exact name of for each account, the account number, branch and balance.
  • Insurance: List all policies which pay benefits upon the death, including life, mortgage, or credit insurance.
  • Miscellaneous assets, such as motor vehicles, boats, furniture and furnishings, jewelry, and employment benefits.
Transfer of Estate Property

Probate is the technical, legal term for distribution of the deceased person’s estate under the supervision of the court. It is designed to protect all those who have an interest in the deceased’s property, such as immediate family, joint tenants, creditors and the taxing authorities.

Is Probate Necessary?

In many cases, probate proceedings are not necessary to transfer property of the deceased to persons entitled to it. Depending on a variety of factors, probate may be necessary or preferable. Consultation with a legal advisor is recommended. The probate procedures in New York State are relatively simple and in most cases require very little court intervention.

Appointment of an Executor or Administrator.

This person takes charge of the property, its distribution, and the filing of necessary papers in Court. Often times, an Executor is named in the Will. If there is no Will, the Court will usually appoint a surviving spouse or relative to serve as Administrator of the decedent’s Estate.

Executor Responsibilities

Provide proof to the Probate Court that the Will is valid and is the last Will of the deceased.

Provide written notice of probate proceedings to all known distributes and beneficiaries.

Give actual notice of the deceased’s death to the U.S. Social Security Administration and any other state, private agency, or company that the decedent may have been receiving periodic payments from their lifetime.

After all these steps have been taken, the Court will issue letters Testamentary to the Executor of the Estate and the Executor can do whatever is necessary to then administer the estate in accordance with the decedent’s Will. That includes appraising property, investing and managing assets, paying creditors, filing and paying taxes, and transferring assets.

File receipts and releases from the beneficiaries and a report that the Estate has been fully distributed to the Court once the process is concluded and all the steps have been completed.

Estates Under $20,000

As long as real property is not involved, New York State Law allows for the transfer of small estates by a Voluntary Administrator to either beneficiaries named in the decedent’s Will or if there is no Will, to the decedent’s intestate distributes as long as:

  1. they are entitled to the estate;
  2. notification is given to all distributes; and…
  3. these conditions are met:
    1. The estate is under $20,000 exclusive of joint bank accounts, trust accounts, U.S. Savings Bonds POD, and jointly owned personal property.
    2. No probate proceedings are pending.
    3. All decedent’s valid debts have been satisfied.
    4. All estate debts paid.

If all these conditions are met, the Voluntary Administrator must submit a completed, signed and notarized affidavit affirming that these steps have or will be taken. The Court then issues a certificate which allows the transfer of assets to the Voluntary Administrator so that expenses and debts can be paid and then distribution of the remaining assets made to the beneficiaries or distributees.

Joint Tenancy

Property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship usually can be transferred after a few requisites are met. These may include furnishing a copy of the death certificate and if the decedent died after February 1, 2000, and the estate is OVER $675,000, proof that no federal or state taxes are due.

Taxes

Even though a death has occurred, taxes are still due by the April 15 deadline. An extension can be requested from the IRS and NY State if all the information needed is not readily available.
Further information can be obtained from the IRS taxpayer information services listed under US Internal Revenue Service in your telephone directory and the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are also due at the same time and in the same manner as if the deceased person were still alive. Contact the local treasurer’s office in the City, Town, or Village where the decedent resided for more information on property taxes.

Federal Taxes

The federal government assesses a tax based on the deceased person’s estate. In most cases, a federal estate tax return has to be filed only if the federal estate tax return has to be filed only if the total value of the deceased person’s estate exceeds $675,000 (for person’s dying after February 1, 2000) increasing periodically to $1,000,000 in 2006. If the Estate is required to file a federal and/or New York State tax return, they must be filed and all taxes paid within nine months of the date of death. The tax will be based on the following:

  1. All property in the decedent’s name alone at the time of death
  2. Large gifts made immediately prior to death unless gift tax returns were previously filed and any applicable tax paid.
  3. Life insurance proceeds, unless ownership was transferred more than three years prior to death or the decedent never actually owned the policy.
  4. The value of the decedent’s interest in jointly or co-owned property.
The “Marital Deduction”

The value of most property which passes to a surviving spouse is deducted from the value of the estate. It would be wise to check with the IRS and a financial advisor for more information. Contact your local IRS office for more information and the appropriate forms.

Helpful Telephone Numbers

New York State Tax Information: 1-800-225-5829
NY State Division of Veteran Affairs: 1-888-838-7697
NY State Crime Victims Board: 1-800-247-8035
NY State Department of Labor: 1-518-457-3584
Medicaid: (Contact the local Department of Social & Health Services Office. Look under New York State in your phone book.)
Social Security Information: 1-800-772-1213
Federal Tax Information and Assistance: 1-800-829-1040

Making Jewish Funeral Arrangements

There are many details and choices to consider when making funeral arrangements. It is a very emotional and possibly, overwhelming time. The staff at Star of David is here to help you navigate the process and make it as easy for you as possible. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

When someone passes away, the process of obtaining the necessary documentation to handle the ultimate disposition of their remains begins. First, the appropriate physician must sign the death certificate. This is usually coordinated by the nursing administrator at the facility where death has occurred. If death occurs at home, it is the our responsibility to secure the death certificate through either hospice or the physician that was caring for the decedent. Once signed, it becomes our responsibility to secure it and then transfer the deceased from place of passing to our funeral home.

We then must obtain from the family what are known as the “vital statistics” of the deceased. We record this information on to the death certificate. Once completed, we  file it with the department of health or local registrar to obtain the permits required for the “final disposition” (burial or cremation). It is at this time that we can obtain however many certified copies of the certificate that you have requested.

Furnishing us with the vital statistics beforehand can be very helpful. Listed below is the information that you will be asked to provide:

  • The name of the deceased
  • Place of death (facility name and address)
  • Current legal residence including city, state and zip code
  • Date of birth
  • City and State of birth
  • Citizenship
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Marital Status (if married, their spouse’s maiden name)
  • Level of Education
  • Occupation (you can’t use retired-you can use homemaker if applicable)
  • Did they serve in the military? If so what years and branch of service?
  • Their father’s name & mother’s maiden name.

You will also need to provide us with any of the specific information regarding grave location in the cemetery that you have. Usually identifying a previous burial in an adjacent grave gives us and the cemetery a way to locate the proper grave to be used

We can email to you a form which can be completed and returned to us in advance of its need.

Once the vital statistical information is provided, you’ll need to make some decisions on the specifics of the service:

  • The day and time you wish to have the service
  • The type of service: Either in our chapel, at another chapel, in a synagogue, or directly at the cemetery
  • The type of preparation you wish us to provide: washing and dressing by our licensed staff or reaching out to the Chevra Kadisha to perform Tahara and Shmira
  • Whether you wish us to dress the decedent in their own clothing or tachrichim (shroud)
  • Determining how many certified copies of the death certificate you”ll need us to get for you
  • If you have a rabbi available to conduct the service or will you need us to provide one?
  • Will you be needing us to provide a limousine for you or will you be driving your own car?
  • Which casket to choose?
    Whether you would like us to place a notice in the newspaper and what you want it to say
  • Where and when shiva will be observed?
  • If there is any place you would like contributions made to be sent in the decedent’s memory
  • Any special requests or needs that should be addressed

Once these choices are made, our staff will ensure that all of your requests are carried out precisely as you wish them to be.

Jewish Burial Customs

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 Chapels, 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 Star of David Memorial Chapels 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 Chapels has people available to serve as Shomereim and will arrange for this service, if the family wishes.

Star of David Memorial Chapels 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 Chapels 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.

The Burial

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 Memorial Chapels 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 ShivaShloshim 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.

Yahrzeit

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.

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.

Death Benefits

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 pre-arranging a funeral 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.