When a death occurs, please contact the rabbi as soon as possible. Our congregation’s funeral plan, enclosed with this booklet, may guide you as you make the necessary arrangements. Our rabbi and cantor officiate at the funerals for members of the congregation and their immediate families. The rabbi will visit the bereaved family as soon as possible to offer comfort, to discuss the funeral service and to provide such guidance as the individual situation may require. If the service takes place at a funeral home or synagogue, friends are encouraged to accompany the family to the cemetery, where a short interment service is conducted. Kaddish is recited for the first time by the mourners at the end of this service. Copies of Kaddish will be provided them by the funeral director.
Kaddish is the liturgical doxology of praise to God recited at the close of prayer. It is then recited by the mourners for the appropriate period of mourning, normally eleven months. Traditional mourners include the following relationships to the deceased: children, siblings, parents and spouse. Reform Judaism imposes the duty of reciting kaddish upon both the men and women of the family.
Shiva, from the Hebrew meaning seven, begins as the family returns home from the cemetery. Mourners are urged to remain at home for seven days. Upon return from the cemetery, the mourners kindle a shiva candle which is furnished by the funeral director. On Shabbat mourners attend services at the synagogue, where kaddish is said. During shiva, the community will help provide for the mourners needs, in particular food for the meal of consolation after the funeral and during the week and a minyan for services at home to enable mourners to say kaddish. The observance of shiva has great psychological value and is compatible with Reform Jewish practice.
Sheloshim is the thirty-day period (including shiva) when normal life gradually resumes and the mourners return to their necessary daily activities while yet observing certain aspects of mourning. Kaddish should be said at services in the synagogue during sheloshim and then throughout the rest of the year. The name of the deceased will be read before kaddish at all evening services during sheloshim. Mourners should avoid joyful social events and entertainment during sheloshim. This is the traditionally prescribed period of mourning for relatives other than parents. The twelve-month period concludes the full mourning period for those who are bereaved of their parents.
It is a mitzva to observe the yahrzeit (the anniversary of the day of death) with the recitation of kaddish at synagogue services. It is customary to light a yahrzeit candle on the eve of the yahrzeit date. On the Shabbat immediately after the yahrtzeit the deceased’s name will be read before kaddish as long as the family belongs to the congregation. If the family has placed a memorial plaque in our synagogue, the deceased’s name will be read in perpetuity on the Shabbat immediately after the yahrzeit. The family will be notified by the congregation of the yahrzeit and of the date when the name will be read.
Dedication of Monument
It is customary to conduct a simple service to dedicate the monument which marks the grave of the deceased. This service may occur at any time after sheloshim, but generally is scheduled at the conclusion of the year of mourning. Upon request from the family, the rabbi or cantor will conduct such a service of dedication.