What to do upon the death of a loved one:

Before Funeral

  1. Contact the memorial park where the deceased will be interred, you will need to spend time (a couple of hours) at the memorial park to take care of details. Here is what the memorial park will do for you:
    1.  Picking up your loved one
    2.  Preparing the body for burial
    3.  If requested, contacting the hevra kadisha, (an organization who ritually washes and prepares the body for burial according to Jewish tradition) 
    4. Picking an interment site
    5. Picking a casket
    6. Reserving proper funeral hall (on premises)
  2. Contact Rabbi before agreeing to a funeral time for availability
  3. Prepare obituary for websites and newspapers
  4. Meet with rabbi to talk about your loved one (plan on a couple of hours for this).
  5. Prepare where people will gather after the funeral


After Funeral

  1. Announce and prepare where Shiva will be held.
    1. Traditionally there are seven days of Shiva, where the mourners stay at home and people come to visit. (shiva is not observed on Shabbat). 
    2. The tradition calls for a morning and an evening prayer service, although most Reform Jews do one to three days, in the evening only.
    3. People tend to have these services in their home, although some use a rental space (for first night especially, where there are the most people)
  2. Temple Emanuel will provide a clergy member to be present for the first three evening services (it may or may not be the same rabbi who performed the service). TEBH will bring siddurim (prayer books) and Kippot. 
    1. If you wish to observe all seven days, our clergy will work with you to ensure that there is service leadership coverage for the remaining evenings.
  3.  The name of your loved one will be read on Friday night services at TEBH during the first 30 days after burial.
    1. This time is called sh’loshim. Traditionally one returns to work but would not participate in joyous celebrations (for instance, one may attend a wedding, but not the party with dancing). 
  4. One continues to be in mourning for the next year (including sh’loshim). At approximately 11 months, it is appropriate to unveil a plaque on the grave as a memorial marker. Please contact a TEBH clergyperson to help with this short ceremony.


Other details to be aware of:

  1. All mourners typically receive black ribbons to be used for kria, (rending garment) although it is customary for mourners to rip a piece of their clothing. This ripping takes place right before the funeral ceremony, or before the interment.
    1. Mourners in Jewish tradition are the following, in relation to the deceased: mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, husband, wife.
  2. You will receive, from the memorial park, a candle that burns for seven days. It is customary to light this when arriving home from the funeral (there is no blessing to recite).
  3. It is customary to make a donation to the officiating rabbi’s discretionary fund. This donation has ranged anywhere between $500 and $5,000.

If you have any questions regarding the rituals and obligations surrounding the laws of mourning, please feel free to go to the My Jewish Learning website for more information. There you can read up on the many rituals surrounding funerals and mourning. Please see link below.