Jewish Customs for End of Life
This is the central Jewish principle of our mourning practices, based around honouring the dead and paying respects. It involves the traditional preparation of the body and burial without delay. The body is treated with dignity and reverence from the moment of death until burial
The body is never left alone until it is buried. A shomer or shomeret (the guardian or watchman) attends to the body at all times, often reciting psalms.
The society that prepares the deceased for interment and performs the Taharah.
The ritual purification and sacred preparation of the body for burial. It consists of cleansing and dressing the body after death, assisting the soul from this world to the next.
After the Tahara, every Jew is dressed in a simple white shroud for burial. The shroud is made of white hand-stitched linen or muslin.
A traditional wooden casket in which the body must be buried so that it returns to the earth without difficulty. The casket remains closed through all services, per Jewish Law.
This practice is the ceremonial tearing of clothing by the immediate family as an expression of grief.
This is carried out from our core belief that the soul is present around the body until it is buried. The process centres around the feelings of the deceased, not just the feelings of those who are grieving.
At the end of the service, the guests form a pathway for the family to pass through as they give their condolences.
These are the seven days of observed mourning following a death. Friends and family visit the immediate family at home, candles are lit each day, and the Mourner’s Kaddish is recited.
The ceremony for placing the tombstone, occurring within a year of the loss. The unveiling is a family gathering to memorialize their loved one through psalms, prayers, and stories. This is often officiated by a rabbi or family member and less formal than the initial service.
The anniversary of the death of a loved one using the Hebrew calendar. It may also sometimes the date of the monument unveiling.
“As the generations move on, the cemetery becomes a repository for the history of that community. That history speaks to us of who we were. It reminds us of who we are. It tells us who we may yet become.”
Sidney Freedman, Founder