The Jewish faith has some very specific guidelines when it comes to the burial of a loved one. Every detail has a spiritual significance and should be carried out according to tradition. Although there are some flexibilities allowed, most of the traditions of Judaism remain steadfast and true.
Traditional Jewish funerals are held almost immediately after the death of a loved one. This is because the funeral custom is multifaceted and specific. Getting it underway shows respect to the departed and the family. Deciding when to begin the process is up to the family and their rabbi. The actual ceremony is rather brief, lasting around twenty minutes. Memorials consist of psalm and scripture readings and a eulogy.
The Jewish Burial
Earth burial is the chosen preference in Judaism. Although entombment is sometimes practiced, earth burial remains the most practiced method. Traditionally prayers are not recited until the casket is lowered into the earth and the grave has been filled.
The Period of Mourning
The Jewish traditions of mourning are a very important step in the process of losing a loved one. They are broken down into several categories.
Shiva: Shiva lasts for seven days and begins immediately after the burial. During this time, mourners will remain at home, preferably the home of the departed. Shiva is a time for friends and other relatives to come to the home of the deceased to offer respect and comfort.
Shloshim: The second stage of mourning, Shloshim is the 30 days following the burial. Shloshim serves as a period of re-entry into the world for the mourners. Usually the mourner focuses on returning to work or school, and will avoid any celebrations or fun activities.
Yahrzeit: Yahrzeit is the annual anniversary of someone’s passing. At this time the gravestone has been put in place at the cemetery. This tradition is observed by lighting a 24 hour candle in honor of the deceased. The Kaddish prayer is also recited.
Matzava Unveiling: The headstone, or Matzava, is usually unveiled at the cemetery with the deceased’s family holding a ceremony. This is not a requirement in Jewish tradition, but it is a custom that many practice. Jewish tradition states that the grave must be marked, and this is done usually around the first yahrzeit. Sometimes, this takes place earlier, after Shiva or Shloshim.
Choosing Cemetery Monuments
Making the choice of cemetery monuments is very important when a Jewish person passes away. There are customs involved in the choice. If the departed is married, the spouse may choose to have a double headstone. This is done to reserve a plot for themselves in the future. It symbolizes eternal unity. If that idea is not comfortable for the spouse, a single headstone can also be chosen. Each headstone has rather specific guidelines to follow, and will have Jewish symbols and Hebrew prayers inscribed into them.
St. Charles Monuments respects and understands the nature of Jewish burial traditions. We are here for you to discuss the plans with you in the unfortunate event of losing a loved one. Please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss plans for the burial of your loved one.