Home
DYING RITUALS
AFTER DEATH RITUALS
SAMPLE FUNERALS
SITTING SHIVA
MOURNER'S KADDISH (Ashkenazi)
MOURNER'S KADDISH (Sephardi)
EL MALAY RACHAMIM
HASHKABAH
BURIAL KADDISH (Sephardic)
CONTACT THE RABBI
COMPASSIONATE JEWISH and INTERFAITH DEATH, BURIAL, MOURNING, AND MEMORIAL OBSERVANCES WEBSITE

RABBI GERSHON'S FLEXIDOX, INTERFAITH, JEWISH-BASED GUIDE TO DEATH, MOURNING, FUNERAL SERVICES, and SITTING SHIVA

LAVANAT HAMET

Hamakom yinakhem etkhem b'tokh sha'ar avaylay v'yerushalayim
(May the Ever-Present comfort you together with all who have mourned in Zion and Jerusalem)

THIS SITE IS PRESENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION - IF YOU NEED A RABBI FOR A FUNERAL, OR JUST TO TALK TO, PLEASE CALL RABBI GERSHON STEINBERG-CAUDILL (510) 232-9750; OR E-MAIL AT ecorebbe@earthlink.net. Write FUNERAL in subject heading area of e-mail.

DEATH, BURIAL, MOURNING, AND MEMORIAL OBSERVANCES

"Our rabbis taught that just as we bless God in our moments of joy, so too must we bless (God) in our moments of sorrow. A mourner blesses the True Judge and recites the words from Job (1: 21), "The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; may the Name of the Lord be blessed."

It is interesting to note that we have seven days of rejoicing after marriage, and the Shiva, seven days of mourning. The latter period is derived from the Bible, wherein it is described how, after Jacob died, Joseph mourned for seven days - the period set for observing the passing of one of the seven closest relatives. When Moses died, the children of Israel wept in the plains of Moab for thirty days, after which the days of mourning for Moses were ended. This teaches us the custom of the SHELOSHIM: mourning for a period of thirty days after the death of certain relatives.

Having made the analogy between the joys of marriage and the sadness of death, one must neverthe less contrast the two in broader terms. One does not look forward to death with eager anticipation, but realistically must be prepared to accept it when its time arrives.

The deep sense of kinship, and the desire to share the joy of others in times of happiness, is now transformed into sensitivity, acts of kindness, and a feeling for the bereaved family. Every effort is made so that mourners should feel loved and sense the compassion others have for them in their time of sadness. The sense of togetherness that is expressed by the presence and attention of family and friends during the Shiva, the Sheloshim, and all the special observances is a source of consolation.

Among many Sephardim, Keriah, the rending of the mourner's garment, is enacted when the members of the family return to their home following the funeral. The "meal of condolence" (SEUDAT HABRA'AH) is provided for the mourners immediatly after the Keriah has been accomplished. Food is prepared by members of the family or by a caterer for the entire week.

Throughout the week of Shiva, the Zohar and other texts are studied in memory of the deceased. When leaving the house of mourners, one recites to them the words TENUHAMU MIN HA-SHAMAYIM, meaning, "May you be comforted from Heaven."

Each morning and evening during the Shiva, at the end of prayers, a HASHKABAH (memorial prayer) is recited for the deceased, as well as for other members of the family who predeceased him or her. This brings about a sense of unity within the family because all its departed loved ones are being recalled.

The conclusion of the Shiva in the Syrian community is marked by the ARIYAT, the "reading" which takes place at Minhah (afternoon prayers) on the final afternoon before the Shiva is concluded. Words of eulogy are offered by the rabbi, and this is followed by a dinner for the mourners and those present. The same ceremony is repeated on the weekend before the Sheloshim concludes.

Mourners go to the cemetery on the morning after the ariyat at both the conclusion of the Shivah and the conclusion of Sheloshim. At the cemetery they recite tehillim (psalms), spelling out the name of the deceased with the Alpha Beta (Psalm 119). A widespread Sephardic custom showing concern for mourners is demonstrated on the Sabbath during the week of Shiva. Congregants leave their own seats and come to sit beside the mourners to show that they share in their sorrow.

The anniversary of the death of a loved one is comemorated annully by the recitation of a memorial prayer, as well as by special Torah study sessions. In the Spanish and Portuguese tradition, the death anniversary is known as the NAHALAH. Among Jews of Judeo-Spanish background, it is known as the MELDADO, the Judeo-Spanish term for "reading." This refers to the fact that religious texts are read by family and friends in memory of the deceased.

As the customs outlined ... demonstrate, friendship and kinship are expressed in the life cycle in a manner that enables each person to help share in the joys, as well as the sorrows, of his or her family and friends. A reciprocal relationship of this nature bodes well for the well-being of the entire community, and helps bring about a balanced perspective of the understanding of life, its joys and challenges, which are visited upon each and every one of us." - from EXPLORING SEPHARDIC CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS, by Rabbi Marc Angel.

Mitzva of Nikhum Avelim (God desires us to Comfort Mourners)

BASIC JEWISH ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT DEATH
1) Death is a part of life. 2) There is holiness even in death. 3) One is NEVER alone in facing death. 4) Even in death there is meaning. 5. The soul lives on after death.

QUOTE FROM THE ZOHAR
When a person's soul departs, all of the relatives and companions in the Other World join it and show it the high and low points of the afterlife. For seven days the soul goes to and from its house to its grave, mourning for the physical body.

Sitting SHIVA:
Seven days of mourning. No mourning on Shabbat or on holidays. Abstain from work, pleasurable activities and personal grooming. The first three days are considered more intensive, no greetings are suggested to be offered or returned; on the last four days a mourner may return a greeting. Traditional practices include daily prayers with community in ones home (minyan), saying Kaddish, sitting on low stools or on the floor, covering mirrors, and the lighting of special shiva candles.

CONCLUSION OF SHIVA
Conclusion of shiva is marked by the mourners taking a walk around the block (based on outline created by Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank).

***SAMPLE FUNERAL SERVICES***

FOR A SAMPLE FUNERAL SERVICE, CLICK ON THE "SAMPLE FUNERAL" PAGE ON THE MENU BAR.

A funeral should be a service that has the participation of family members and friends; utilizes favorite music, readings and poetry.

Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill will conduct a meaningful and compassionate funeral service for the deceased and those who are mourners; family and friends.

Rabbi Gershon will use any format that the family of the deceased desires, EXCEPT a format that expresses belief on the Rabbi's part in a faith path not based in Judaism. Samples will be found posted below that are based upon Traditional Orthodox Jewish (Ashkenazi and Sephardic), Conservative, Reform, and Renewal funeral traditions.

Rabbi Gershon is willing to co-officiate with Christian, Moslem and other clergy.

Rabbi Gershon is also willing and able to conduct secular and non-religious funerals.

Rabbi Gershon can help the family with planning a meaningful funeral worthy of expressing the love and depth of loss.

TO LEARN THE ECOREBBE'S TEACHINGS ABOUT LIFE AFTER DEATH, REINCARNATION, AND RESSURECTION, CLINK ON THIS LINK

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION, CLICK ON THIS LINK

TO LEARN THE TEACHINGS OF THE ECOREBBE, RABBI GERSHON CAUDILL, CLICK ON THIS LINK