Everything To Know About A Jewish Cemetery

According to Jewish traditions, a Jew must be buried only amongst other Jews, in a Jewish cemetery. Jewish custom considers it a matter of great importance that only other Jews handle the body of a deceased Jew, move the casket, place it in the ground and fill in the grave-site.

A Jewish cemetery will typically include some combination of the following monuments: single headstones, double headstones, triple headstones, benches, open beds, and family headstones, to name a few. Which types of headstones or monuments that you will see will depend on what rules and regulations for monuments are in effect at the cemetery that you’re visiting as these rules may vary from cemetery to cemetery. You might also see something called “etchings” at a Jewish cemetery. An etching is a picture of a loved one etched into the headstone by a professional artist.

You will likely also come across several different symbols at various grave-sites at a Jewish cemetery. One of these common symbols is a tree trunk which is symbolic of the “tree of life” being cut down – these are often used to convey the fact that an individual died at a young age. Another such symbol is a draped urn or vessel on top of a monument and the draping is a sign of grief. Candlesticks are yet another common symbol found in a Jewish cemetery and they represent a Jewish woman’s reverence towards their religion. Always keep in mind, only Jewish symbols are permitted in a Jewish cemetery – you won’t see any other religious or secular symbols.

There are a few things that are forbidden at Jewish cemeteries which you should be aware of if you visit one. A Jewish cemetery will close on Shabbat and all major Jewish holidays, so visitation must occur outside of those days. Eating and drinking is not permitted anywhere in the confines of the cemetery, you must dress appropriately (nothing flashy or revealing), you should not carry a Torah into the cemetery and you are not allowed to step over or sit on the gravestone that directly covers a grave. As a rule of thumb, be sure that whatever you do at a Jewish cemetery (how you dress, gifts you bring, etc.) is always done in a sincerely religious manner.

Covid Protocols

In these challenging and still uncertain times, we believe the most prudent choice for our families is to have only a graveside service with a small brief gathering beforehand at our chapel. However, given the most recent guidelines from NY State, we are now re-opening our chapels for services provided the following protocols are adhered to. For the safety of the families we serve as well as our staff, these protocols will be strictly enforced and are subject to change at any time based upon NY State mandate and Star of David Memorial Chapels policy.

COVID-19 Protocols

  • Chapel services will be permitted. We have two chapels on our premises. Based upon the chapel you choose, the maximum number of family and friends attending shall be limited to the state mandated percentage of total capacity of the chosen chapel. Our directors will explain these options and limitations.
  • Because of the limited size and time constraints imposed from these protocols, there may be times we cannot accommodate a family’s request for a specific day and time for the service. We will do our best, under these circumstances, to accommodate you. Our directors will advise you regarding scheduling.
  • All mourners and attendees are required to wear masks at all times. This, along with the maximum allowable number of family/attendees shall be strictly enforced.
  • All mourners/attendees must follow social distancing protocols and remain six feet apart with the exception of families that are living together in the same household.
  • Attendees will be expected to seat themselves accordingly in the chapel safely distanced.
  • Members from different households shall refrain from shaking hands or embracing
  • If required to do so, we will take temperature scans upon entry and you may asked to provide contact information for the purposes of contact tracing.
  • Due to sanitary reasons, we will not be able to provide head coverings. If desired, all attendees will need to bring their own.

A Guide to Mourning Practices in the Tradition of Conservative Judaism By Rabbi Raphael Rank

Also See:
What To Do At Time Of Death
The Complete Jewish Funeral Planning Kit
Conforming to Jewish Law
Jewish Burial Customs

Although the different sects of Judaism share many of the same beliefs, each individual sect may contain traditions and beliefs unique to the specific sect. The following material, which was provided to us by Rabbi Rafi Rank of Midway Jewish Center, describes Conservative Judaism’s beliefs regarding Jewish Death and Mourning Customs. We hope you find this helpful.

Download Rabbi Rank’s Guide

Books to Help With Grieving

Also see:
Dealing With A Jewish Death
Sorting Out a Life
Bereavement Support Groups


How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies, by Therese A. Rando, Ph.D

The Courage to Grieve, by Judy Tatelbaum

Understanding Grief, Helping Yourself Heal, by Alan D. Wolfelt PhD (Workbook)

Men and Grief

Into the Cave: When Men Grieve, by Dr. Ron Petrie

Swallowed by a Snake, by Thomas R. Golden

Death of a Parent: For Adults

Father Loss, by Neil Chethik

Motherless Daughters, The Legacy of Loss, by Hope Edleman

The Orphaned Adult, by Alexander Levy

Children’s Grief

2-6 Year Old:

I Heard Your Daddy Died, by Mark Scrivani

I Heard Your Mommy Died, by Mark Scrivani

6-8 Year Old:

Help Me Say Goodbye, by Janis Silverman

Waterbugs & Dragonflies, by Doris Stickney

6-12 Year Old:

When Someone Very Special Dies, By Marge Heegaard ( Art Therapy)

8-11 Year Old:

How it Feels When a Parent Dies,by Jill Krementz

Teen Grief

Fire in My Heart, Ice in My Veins, by Enid Samuel Traisman

Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers, by Earl A. Grollman

For Parents to Help in Children/Teen Grief

Healing a Child’s Grieving Heart, by Alan D. Wolfelt PH.D.

Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens, by Alan D. Wolfelt, PH.D.

Bereavement Travel

We have gathered some information, should you be in need of bereavement travel. This information is current but please confirm with the airline as their policies do change without notice. If it turns out you or someone you know will be unable to attend the funeral, you may use our webcam/phone-in service. Safe travel to all.

American Not provided on website. You must call for more information. Immediate family.** At time of reservation, name of deceased or ill person and their relationship to you; name, address and phone number of funeral home or hospital and name of a person to contact there.
Continental Averages 5 to 20% percent off full-price round-trip coach fare. Immediate family, including foster parents, foster children and legal guardians.** At time of reservation, name and phone number of hospital and doctor’s name for illness, or name and relationship of deceased and contact at funeral home for death
Northwest Little to know discount Immediate family, also clergy who are performing a funeral service** At reservation, name of deceased or ill person and funeral home or hospital telephone number. Plus form to be filled out at check in.
Delta No information provided. You must call for more info. Immediate family.** Proof of death or illness, such as coroner’s certificate, letter from funeral director or note from attending physician.
United Last-minute ticket can be purchased at 7-day advance price (about 10 % off) Immediate family, including domestic partners.** For death, copy of death certificate or letter from funeral home; for emergency, copy of hospital admission/discharge or letter from doctor.
US Airways Varies by market, averaging 10 percent off last-minute fare. Must travel within 7 days of purchase for death and within 3 days for medical emergency. Immediate family, including domestic partners and life partners.** At time of reservation, name and phone number of attending funeral home or attending physician.

**Immediate family is a spouse; parent; child; sibling; grandparent; grandchild, and all great, step, half, adoptive and in-law variation; natural aunt, uncle, cousin, niece and nephew; plus exceptions as noted.

Note: There are no bereavement fares offered by Southwest Airlines.


Bereavement Support Groups

Also see:

Books On Grieving
Sorting Out a Life
Dealing With Jewish Death

Below are some local groups and organizations which help in dealing with bereavement and end of life situations.

American Cancer Society, Hauppauge (631) 436-7070

Cancer Care Woodbury   (516) 364-8130

Compassionate Friends (loss of a child) (631) 738-0809

Hope House Ministries, Port Jefferson (631) 928-2377

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Melville (631) 752-8500

Long Island Breast Cancer (1 in 9)   (516) 374-3190

Hewlet House (all cancers), Hewlett     (516) 374-3190

Long Island Survivors of Suicide, Jamaca (718) 380-8205

Family Services League, Huntington  (631) 427-3700

North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center
Roslyn Heights   (516) 299-5373

Parents of Murdered Children, Roslyn Heights (516) 626-7662

Pederson-Krag Mental Health, Smithtown  (631) 920-8300