Today is April 5, 2020 -
After calling your family, a telephone call to the Rabbi at 973-584-5666 ext. 1, will alert us to your needs when there is a death within your family. The funeral home of your choice should also be contacted. While we make no specific recommendations, Jewish funeral homes that serve our area include:
The Rabbi and funeral home will offer assistance in making the arrangements. The Rabbi, in consultation with the family, will arrange for officiation at the funeral.
We suggest that a member of your family or a close friend be immediately notified to stay and aid you at this time to help you get answers to your questions and make some of the arrangements. If you need additional assistance, a member of congregation can be contacted by the clergy.
The funeral home can make all necessary arrangements in connection with the burial. The funeral home will have the body brought to its facility where it will be cleansed and prepared for burial. It is up to the family to express preference in regard to carrying out particular Jewish traditions. This preparation is called Taharat HaMet, the purification of the body of the deceased.
The funeral home will also assist you in the selection of a casket. A wood casket, inexpensive, with no metal nails, or one as plain and unadorned as possible is in keeping with tradition. This is to emphasize the common fate of all life. We recommend that primary mourners be accompanied by a relative or a friend when selecting a casket and making funeral arrangements. Should you desire, the funeral home will assist in placing the obituary notice in the newspaper.
In traditional practice, attire for deceased men and women consisted of only a simple shroud. The principle that all are equal in death was thus reinforced by preventing families from ostentatiously and competitively dressing their deceased in fine clothing. This served to preserve the dignity of the poor and reminded all that a funeral was an inappropriate time for showing off one’s wealth. Today most people can afford a simple suit or dress. Therefore, it is appropriate to be dressed in more than a shroud, but the same principles embodied in traditional Jewish practice should be preserved. If you would like your loved one buried in a traditional shroud, you can make those arrangements through the funeral home. Valuables should not be buried with the body.
The Temple Shalom Cemetery is located in a section of the Mount Freedom Hebrew Cemetery, a beautiful, pastoral cemetery located at 100 South Road, off of Dover Chester Road, in Randolph, NJ (look for a sign that says “Hebrew Cemetery.”) There are single and family plots available for synagogue members. Please call our Temple Administrator at 973-584-5666 ext. 5, if you are interested in acquiring plots within our cemetery.
The Rabbi is on call to any Temple Shalom family stricken with the death of a loved one. Our Rabbi provides guidance about the traditions of Judaism to help you make the appropriate decisions, officiates at the funeral and, whenever possible, will be there in the evening for at least one of the services at the Shiva home following the burial (trained members of the congregation also help to provide for Shiva services.) Some months later, the Rabbi can work with the family on the unveiling ceremony of a tombstone or memorial tablet.
A Jewish funeral is a simple ceremony consisting of some appropriate Psalms and readings as well as a eulogy. We begin the service with K’riah, the tearing and wearing of a black ribbon representing the tear you feel in your lives when you experience the loss of a dear one. It also serves as a signal to others that you are in mourning and that an adjustment of greeting is in order. The K’riah ribbon is worn for up to one month after the funeral except on Shabbat.
The service may take place at a graveside, in the synagogue or in the funeral home. If the funeral is held at the funeral home or at the synagogue, it is followed by a short ceremony at the cemetery before burial.
Jewish custom urges that the burial occur as soon after death as possible. However, if close relatives must travel a great distance, the ceremony may be delayed. Funeral services are not held on Shabbat or Jewish holy days.
The goal of the eulogy is to evoke honest memories and feelings about the deceased and to bring comfort to the mourners. The Rabbi is well trained to work with the family in order to create a eulogy that honors the deceased and begins to help the family cope with their loss.
Upon arrival at the cemetery, the family may escort the casket to the grave or wait while the casket is taken to the lot and then proceed to the graveside. The casket is lowered into the grave prior to the beginning of the cemetery service. The Mourners‘ Kaddish is recited at the conclusion of the service at the cemetery. Following recitation of the Mourners‘ Kaddish, family and friends may choose to fulfill the greatest mitzvah, which is to fill the grave either by placing a symbolic handful of soil or placing a shovel or two of earth onto the casket.
It is customary to not have flowers at a Jewish funeral. Rather than flowers, friends should be encouraged to make a contribution to the synagogue or a favorite charity in memory of the deceased.
The seven day period of intense mourning following the burial is known as Shiva. This is the time of most intense mourning. It is followed by 23 lesser days, known as Shloshim, which are then followed by ten more months of reciting the mourner’s Kaddish in a minyan. Shabbat and holidays interrupt Shiva and the family attends services at the synagogue.
According to Jewish tradition, mourners are taken care of by the community during Shiva so that they don’t need to worry about personal care. Traditionally, mourners do not worry about shaving, hair care, cosmetics or other personal care beyond the hygienic during shiva. Many people cover the mirrors with sheets taped to the wall so as not to cause the mourners any worry about how they look.
Some mourners choose to sit for a full seven days, other families choose just three, which has become a common practice in our community. During each evening of Shiva, the Rabbi or a congregation member will lead a minyan service. During Shiva friends will visit the house, bring food for the family, and stay for the service.
During your visit to a Shiva house, you should focus on the mourners, sharing memories of the deceased with them or even just sitting with them in silence. During the service at the home, you should participate in the service and offer the healing of your presence.
Sheloshim (thirty) is the thirty day period following burial. Following Shiva, some of the normal routine elements of life are reentered. During the rest of Sheloshim it is customary to refrain from attending social gatherings and events. One does not visit the cemetery during this period.
It is our custom that one attend Shabbat services during the period of Sheloshim. The mentioning of the name of the deceased during the recitation of Kaddish at services maintains our tradition of honoring the deceased. Shabbat services at Temple Shalom also offer the bereaved a chance to seek solace in the greater warmth of our entire congregation.
The total mourning period is observed for eleven months, during which Kaddish may be recited and the names of our beloved dead are recited at our Shabbat and holy day services.
Yahrzeit is a Yiddish word meaning the anniversary of death. It is not a day of intense mourning but rather one for remembrance. It may be calculated by either Hebrew or civil calendars. Yahrzeit begins on the evening preceding the date of death and consists of lighting a 24 hour memorial candle and using in remembrance. One usually refrains from social activities throughout this day. It is customary to recite Kaddish (the mourners’ prayer) at Shabbat services preceding the week in which Yahrtzeit occurs. Please call the temple office (973-584-5666) if you would like your loved one’s name read at services. It is also customary to contribute to Tzedakah (charity) in memory of your loved on the occasion of his/her Yahrzeit.
One way you may memorialize the name of a loved one is to have his or her name inscribed on a Yahrzeit Plaque which is exhibited on one of the memorial boards in the Sanctuary. This ensures that the family is informed every year of the date of the Yahrzeit and that the name of their loved one will be read at services in perpetuity. For more information, please contact our Temple Administrator.