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Funeral Service

Funeral Service

  • Decide who will conduct the funeral service and contact the clergy immediately upon the death.
  • Consult with the rabbi/cantor regarding the eulogy/hesped and the participation of family members and friends (noting the aforementioned guidelines).
  • Estimate the number of funeral attendees and choose the funeral location accordingly.
  • Consult with the funeral home and/or cemetery regarding serv- ice locations for both the eulogy and burial. Decide if a chapel and/or graveside service will suit family needs.
  • Appoint pallbearers (those who will carry the coffin part or all of the way to the burial site). If there are individuals who may be unable to physically handle this task, you may designate them as “honorary” pallbearers. Women and men alike are eligible to be pallbearers and “honorary” pall- bearers. Usually the deceased’s spouse and children do not act as pallbearers. In-laws, siblings, grandchildren, dear friends are customary. This is an honor that can be given to Jewish individuals as well as those of other faith traditions.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from the ceremony for mourn- ers and other family members. This is often done through the funeral home.
  • Some mourners may wish to practice reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer in advance of the funeral. It is the religious duty of mourners to say the Kaddish themselves and not rely upon surrogates to say it for them. For those who do not read Aramaic, the Mourner’s Kaddish is transliterated into English letters.

S’udat Hav’ra-ah (“Meal of Healing“)

  • If the family will be observing this custom, members of the extended family or friends (but not the mourners) should make arrangements for a light meal.
  • Give out printed directions to the family home at the funeral.
  • Place a pitcher of water, a basin, and towel outside the front door to be used by funeral returnees before they enter the home. (All Jewish cemeteries have water spouts/basins at the gate so that those leaving the cemetery may stop and wash their hands, a traditional act of purification.)
  • Prepare hard-boiled eggs for eating during the meal. These eggs symbolize the cyclical nature of life. Lentils are also traditional food at the house of mourning.

Preparing for Shiva

  • Notify employers of needs for family leave.
  • Contact the synagogue of the departed person and/or of the mourners regarding the shiva, in order to set a schedule of services, to assure ten adults (Jewish women and men over the age of 13) at services (if applicable), and to ask for assistance with other practical arrangements. Set a schedule for meal preparation by friends and extended family for the first week or more, as needed.
  • Prepare a handout with the shiva information, to be passed out at the funeral, that includes the address of (and directions to) the home where shiva will be observed, hours during which visitors will be welcomed, and the times of the services.
  • Create a door sign with visiting hours posted.
  • Notify neighbors (and the police department, if necessary) of the presence of additional cars and people in the neighborhood and arrange for parking passes, as needed.
  • It can be helpful to have groceries and other necessary items delivered over the course of the week.