Lifetime Considerations

A. Advance Funeral and Burial Arrangements 

Temple Beth El’s Funeral Consultant, Sandy Fine, offers counseling and assistance to synagogue members in arranging for cemetery properties and funeral services. In particular, Temple Beth El has burial plots at Eden Memorial Park-Mission Hills, and Mount Sinai Memorial Park-Simi Valley Pacific View in Newport Beach that are available for pre-need purchase by Temple Beth El members at very favorable prices and terms. For more information contact Bonni Pomush, Temple Beth El Executive Director, at 949-362-3999 ext 213.

B. Mourning and Condolences
1. The Synagogue:
A single call to
Temple Beth El (949.362.3999 ext 100 or 316)

2. Making the Decisions: 
It is important to recognize that the family of the deceased is often in a state of shock and confusion immediately after the death. Besides the shock, common immediate psychological reactions to the death of a loved one often include strong feelings of denial, guilt, and anger, which themselves are often suppressed and denied. This is obviously not a good time to be making substantial economic decisions regarding the funeral. Thus, one of the most important services which a close friend or relative can render is to accompany and counsel the family regarding the purchase of mortuary and cemetery services if these have not already been arranged for on a pre-need basis.

3. Preparation of the Body: 
The funeral director can also help with the ritual options involved with preparation of the body. Below are descriptions of some of these traditional rituals. Your rabbis are available if you have questions about this rituals and which ones are appropriate for your family.

The body is ritually washed in a rite of purification (“Taharah”) and clothed in a linen burial shroud and a Talit (but with one of the Tzitzit—corner fringes—cut off to signify that the deceased is no longer subject to mitzvot obligations). The body is not dressed in formal or favorite clothes, and is not made up cosmetically. The purpose of dressing in the traditional burial shroud is to recognize that finally all distinctions between rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate, are obliterated in the common end of mankind. Fancy clothes and cosmetics are an unhealthy attempt to deny the reality of death and are a religiously improper attempt to glorify the lifeless corpse. Instead, we should reserve attention and concern for the spirit, soul, life, and influence of the deceased, which was the essence of the deceased’s humanity—and divinity.

The body should be attended at all times, as a mark of respect for the deceased and in recognition of the deceased’s utterly helpless state. The immediate family may want to spend some time in the presence of the body; at other times a watcher (“Shomer”) should be in attendance. However, it is not generally regarded as ritually appropriate or psychologically sound for friends to visit at or spend the night at the funeral home.

In our tradition, the functions of washing, dressing and attending to the body until the funeral are regarded as a special honor. Traditionally, these functions have been reserved for pious community members who formed themselves into burial societies called “Chevra Kadisha”.

4. Autopsy: 
Judaism does not generally approve of autopsies. Jewish law permits a medical autopsy when absolutely required by applicable civil law. (In California, the County Coroner’s Office has the authority to order an autopsy when necessary to determine the cause of death.) A voluntary autopsy may also be appropriate if it could be medically significant—for example, to learn about health conditions that could have implications for the rest of the family or for persons suffering from similar conditions. Judaism judges such matters under the standard of the general overriding obligation to save lives. However, it should be emphasized that questions regarding autopsy should not be resolved solely by the family or medical authorities. The Rabbis should be consulted on all such issues. 

5. Donation of Body Organs: 
It is important to recognize that many of the Jewish traditions about burial arose during the post-biblical period in connection with the belief in the physical resurrection of the dead. This belief generated great concern for accounting for all body parts and organs. Today, many Jews instead focus their concerns in this area upon respect for the deceased as being a helpless and dependent member of society, and for the human body as having been the receptacle of the divine soul. Moreover, Jewish values give precedence to the saving of lives. Therefore, the donation of body tissues or organs for the purpose of saving the lives or health of others is not objectionable on religious grounds to most Jews today. Some insist that it is a mitzvah to be a donor. However, it is still important to insist that the body be treated with the utmost respect, and that all unused tissue, blood and organs be returned for burial with the body. 

California has laws (Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, Health & S.C. Sections 7150 – 7157) governing donation of body parts. For both legal and practical purposes, individuals desiring to make such donations should make advance lifetime arrangements, both by means of signing the legal donation form (a symbol of which can be affixed to a driver’s license) and under special circumstances by arranging with a hospital or other health organization for receipt of the donation. 

6. Coffin: 
The traditional Jewish coffin is a simple, plain wooden coffin made of pine or other readily available wood. Wood is used because it permits the coffin to decompose at generally the same rate as the body and its linen shroud, permitting all to return to the earth. However, metal handles, hinges, screws or nails are permissible. Fastening the coffin with wooden pegs instead of nails or screws is not required by contemporary practice.

Exotic, elaborate or decorative woods, metal caskets or vaults, and fine linings or hardware should be shunned, as these would convert respect for the deceased into unseemly ostentation. We should also remember that well-to-do families in our community have an obligation to embrace uniform burial arrangements so as not to embarrass less fortunate families who cannot afford more elaborate materials. Arranging to purchase the coffin in advance of need will avoid emotional pressures on the family that might otherwise result in the purchase of an excessively elaborate and expensive coffin. 

Where local regulations due to ground conditions require, cement vaults or grave covers or liners may be used. However, the Rabbi’s advice about such matters should be obtained. 

7. Burial or Cremation: 
The Jewish way is burial in the ground. This tradition expresses thousands of years of deeply felt opposition to unhealthy and unnatural worship of the dead. It is a solemn recognition that without the spark of divine soul and human intelligence, the body is simply a part of nature, which must be allowed to be subject to the universal natural processes of decay and return to the dust of the earth. No “modern” views of ecological or personal taste considerations should be permitted to override this central tenet of Jewish ritual belief. Although entombment above the ground is not uncommon in recent years, it is generally agreed that burial in the ground remains truer to the tradition. Additionally, embalming is not a Jewish practice since it inhibits natural process of decay.  Embalming processes are permitted only if necessary to preserve the body until the burial. 

Burial should be in a Jewish cemetery (one operated under Jewish auspices and reserved for burial of Jews). Indeed, it is one of the first obligations of any Jewish community to establish a Jewish cemetery. (One of the first acts of the Los Angeles Jewish community was the establishment of the Chavez Ravine Jewish Cemetery in 1855.) Burial also takes place in Jewish sections of cemeteries.

Two thousand years ago, at the time of the Temple, contact with a dead body by a Kohen (priest) would render him ritually impure and unfit to serve in the Temple. Some present-day Kohenim (pl.) still avoid entering a cemetery in commemoration of this custom. Others enter the cemetery but stay at the back of the funeral party and avoid approaching the grave. Many others no longer regard the special restrictions upon Kohenim as applicable today. If this issue is of concern, the Rabbis should be consulted.

8. Time of Funeral: 
As a mark of honor to the deceased and perhaps also as an appropriate response to the psychological needs of the family, the funeral is traditionally held as soon as possible. Although in earliest times the funeral was held on the day of the death, it is now appropriate to allow a day or two delay in order to permit distant family and friends to attend. The funeral must be scheduled with some care. Funerals are not permissible on Shabbat or certain holidays. Moreover, the Rabbis may have conflicting obligations and are not available at all times. Thus, it is not sufficient to arrange for a time that is available with the funeral director and mortuary. The scheduling of the funeral must always be confirmed in advance with the Rabbi. 

9. Funeral Services: 
Traditional Jewish funeral services follow the dual principles of respect for the deceased but avoiding any improper worship of the body. The coffin is not to be open at any time, as the dead body is no longer able to participate in social interaction. It is wrong to display the body as a “thing” to be observed. 

Flowers are not used, because the funeral is not a time for decoration or physical beauty. Flowers have also developed a strong Christian theological significance that makes them especially inappropriate at a Jewish funeral. Friends who would otherwise send flowers should be encouraged instead to make a donation to a charity in which the deceased or the mourning family has been interested. The family may wish to designate a particular charitable organization or fund at Temple Beth El.

Arrangements regarding the content and format of the funeral service should be worked out with the clergy. The funeral service itself is discussed below in greater detail.

C. The Roles of the Mourners and the Community Between the Death and the Funeral 
The time between the death and the funeral is the time for making the immediate arrangements discussed above. This time period is to be kept as short as practicable, consistent with permitting- the family and friends to attend the funeral. 

During this time period, mourning by the family or condolence by the community is suspended. According to the wisdom of our tradition, it is meaningless to attempt to comfort a mourner until the deceased has been buried. Psychologically, this is a very sound outlook, as the mourners are generally in a condition of shock, denial, numbness, and confusion during the period immediately after the death. Much of the funeral service marks the beginning of “letting go” (acceptance of the reality of death), and effective mourning cannot be begun before that. Thus, the general community should not pay condolence visits at the home or the funeral parlor before the funeral. Of course, close family or friends should be available to the mourners throughout this time to offer their presence, comfort and assistance. Close friends could also help during this time by contacting relatives and friends to notify them of the funeral arrangements.

Often it is very helpful if one or two persons act as coordinators and as contact persons for the community, to ensure that appropriate arrangements for food or other assistance are made without wasteful duplication. Also one person, generally a close friend or relative, should be available to accompany the family for the difficult task of selecting a coffin, burial location and other funeral arrangements if pre-need arrangements have not already been made.

D. The Basic Elements Of The Funeral Service 
1. Who Attends: 
The funeral service has the double function of honor to the deceased and honor to the bereaved. Thus it should be attended by friends of either the deceased or the mourning family. Children should not be shielded from this experience and from their own grief. The funeral service is an important commentary on the Jewish view of life, as well as death, and children should not be kept ignorant of this part of their tradition. If there are any questions about the role for any particular child, the officiating Rabbi should be consulted. 

2. Funeral Service: 
At the funeral service, under the direction of the officiating Rabbi, it is customary to recite a Psalm, read a passage from the Scriptures, and chant the memorial prayer, El Moleh Rachamim. Although this service is typically held at the chapel adjacent to the burial grounds, this is not required, and the prayer service can be held at the gravesite.

3. Seating: 
In some localities a custom has arisen to have the family separated from those attending the service by seating the family in a curtained-off alcove. This practice is probably supposed to permit the family to cry or otherwise express their grief out of the view of the congregation. However, it is clearly wrong to make the family or the community feel that crying or other natural expressions of grief are shameful or must be stifled. The practice of hiding or segregating the mourners is not a traditional Jewish one, and it is preferable if the family is simply seated in the first pews of the chapel during the service. It is not, however, appropriate for those attending to use this occasion to attempt to greet or comfort the mourners until after the funeral and burial. 

4. Coffin: 
The prayer service is held in the presence of the coffin, although the coffin should be closed at all times, and unadorned by flowers or other decorations.

5. Eulogy: 
In earlier times, the giving of a eulogy (a short speech extolling the virtues or community contributions of the deceased) was reserved only for great scholars or other outstanding members of the Jewish community. This practice gradually became generalized, and it is currently customary in all cases to have some words stated in praise of the positive qualities or accomplishments of the deceased. The eulogy should be kept within reasonable bounds of time and extent of praise, and the omission of any eulogy is certainly preferable to one that is embarrassingly immodest, effusive, or untrue. In advance of the funeral service the officiating Rabbi will meet with the family to discuss themes and ideas to incorporate into the Rabbi‘s eulogy.

A relatively recent practice has developed of having close family members and friends share in the delivery of a eulogy. Sometimes reminiscences about the deceased’s life and declarations of the deceased’s influence on the speaker (for example, an adult grandchild) can provide a unique and moving testimony at the funeral.

However, where a mourner’s attempt to speak at the funeral is likely to be marred by an emotional struggle or inability to speak, it is preferable to impart the information to the officiating Rabbi in advance so that it can be woven into the Rabbi’s eulogy without disrupting the funeral service. In no event should any mourner feel pressured to speak at the funeral if that could be uncomfortable for him or her. It may be more comfortable to reserve remembrances by family and friends for minyon services held at home during the Shivah week following the funeral.

6. Music: 
The funeral service is often enhanced by chanting the traditional memorial prayer, El Moleh Rachamim. Organ, piano or violin accompaniment is not traditionally used.

7. Pallbearing: 
It is traditional to name six or eight people (not the immediate mourners) who were close to the decedent to serve as the actual pallbearers, to help carry the coffin from the services to the gravesite. In some cases, physical strength is necessary for some portions of this duty. Honorary pallbearers may also be announced if there are more than six or eight who should share the honor of being named, or for those too young, old or physically infirm to assist.

8. Gravesite Service: 
After the prayer service at the chapel, those attending file out and proceed to the gravesite. The coffin is taken there by hearse or cart, with the family accompanying. The pallbearers then carry the coffin to the gravesite. At the gravesite, the Rabbi leads the balance of the prayer service including the mourners’ recitation of the Kaddish.

(a) Keriah (Tearing Clothing):
The ceremony of Keriah—the rending (tearing) of clothing by the mourners—symbolizes their grief and loss, and is probably an institutionalized substitute for the primitive custom of physical self-mutilation of skin, hair, or clothing. Originally, the Keriah practice took the form of tearing an article of clothing (on the left side for a parent or on the right side for others). More recently a practice has developed of cutting a small black ribbon, which can then be worn attached to the clothing. By following the original practice of actually tearing an article of clothing, mourners might have a better feeling of authenticity and connection with a cherished tradition of the past. In either event, the Rabbi officiates at the actual tearing or cutting.

(b) Kaddish: 
It has often been commented upon that the mourners’ Kaddish prayer contains no reference to death; it is a prayer of praise and sanctification of God. The spirit of the prayer is one of almost defiant declaration of faith—that despite the tragedy of the loss, the mourners still publicly declare their steadfast belief in the Kingdom of God and a world of peace and goodness. Some have seen the Kaddish as man’s attempt to console God for the diminution of God’s universe resulting from the death. Click here for the text of the Kaddish prayer.

(c) Filling the Grave: 
At the conclusion of the service the coffin is physically lowered into the grave. It is important that this be done in the presence of the mourners. The sight of the actual interment is important for the “letting go,” and acceptance of the fact of death without fantasy or illusion.

The family and persons attending the funeral each place some dirt into the grave, onto the coffin. This is usually done with a shovel. Thus, each of us personally fulfills the obligation to bury the dead. The finality of this act further expresses for all the acceptance of the reality of the loss of the body and the termination of the prior life-relationship with the deceased. 

(d) Leaving the Cemetery: 
At the close of the services, the mourners return to the car, to be taken to the home at which Shivah will be observed. Those attending form two lines and the mourners pass between them on their way out of the cemetery. Now that the burial has been concluded, the process of consoling the mourners can begin, so for the first time the persons attending speak to the mourners, saying as they pass, “Ha’makom yenachem et’chem b’toch shear avelei tziyon vi’Yerushalayim” (May God comfort you together with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem). 

E. The First Meal After The Funeral 
The end of the funeral service and the beginning of the formal Shivah period of mourning are marked by the “Seudat Havra’ah”—the Meal of Consolation. The family and those attending the funeral service return to the home (preferably the home of the deceased or else the closest related family member). 

There is a Jewish custom of placing a pitcher of water, a basin and paper towels outside the entrance so that before entering the home, all returning from the funeral can wash their hands, by pouring water from the pitcher. The washing may signify the transition from the funeral, with its focus upon the deceased, to the mourning period, with its focus upon consolation for the family. 

The first act of that consolation is the Meal of Consolation, shared by all who return from the funeral service. This meal should not be prepared, or even procured, by the mourners. Instead, under our tradition, neighbors and friends should furnish this meal (and all other meals of the Shivah period). Currently it would be highly appropriate for friends to make these arrangements. The Temple Beth El Sisterhood should be contacted for assistance in preparation of the food if family and friends are unable to furnish meals. 

The purpose of the first meal is to ritualize the obligation for the living survivors to carry on with their lives, however deep the loss. Unlike a “wake” or other practices of some other religions, the meal is not a celebration. There is no host or hostess, and it is not a party. It is not intended to celebrate the deceased or to cheer up the mourners, but rather to bring the gentle pressure of the community to encourage the mourners to begin their long and difficult re-entry into normal society. There are no special prayers said as part of this meal. Hard-boiled eggs are traditionally part of the food, probably to symbolize life, wholeness, and continuity. The balance of the meal today typically consists of baked goods and other foods, served buffet style. Some families follow the tradition of serving a dairy meal. The Kashrut(observance of Kosher foods restrictions) practices of the family and visitors should be respected.

F. The Shivah 
The initial portion of the formal mourning period is called Shivah (Hebrew: seven), and is essentially a period of time, approximately seven days from the day of the funeral, which is set aside for intensive mourning by the family. It is also the period that marks the beginnings of the mourners’ gradual return to society.

1. Roles of the Mourners and Visitors: 
People observe Shivah (“sit” Shivah) at a designated house (usually the house of the decedent, or otherwise the closest related mourner). The mourners stay there (except for leaving at night to sleep at their own homes, where necessary), and the community pays condolence visits and also attends morning and evening prayer services there. 

Unlike the funeral, the essence of the Shivah is not to pay honor to the deceased, but to give comfort and assistance to the mourners. The mourners are required by the situation to receive visits from caring and loving friends and acquaintances, whose presence helps to strengthen the mourners and to re-establish their connection with society. 

The visitor is not supposed to take the initiative in conversing with the mourners, but to let the mere fact of the visitor’s presence provide the comfort of human companionship and compassion. Instead of the typical greetings (“Good to see you” or “Shalom” are both obviously inappropriate), the visitor need not initiate any greeting whatsoever. This was the early tradition, especially during the first three days of the Shivah period. However, if the relationship warrants it, the visitor can approach the mourners to express by a hug or a few words the visitor’s feelings of sorrow. The visitor should follow the mourner’s lead in conversation, understanding that the process does not call for attempting to “cheer up” the mourners, or distract them from their grief. 

The mourners often want to talk about and hear stories about the deceased and the deceased’s influence on those present. This marks the important second part of the mourning process. In the first part, “letting go,” we give up the defense mechanism of denial, and accept the reality of death. In the second part, “holding on,” we incorporate into our lives the memories and positive influences of the decedent. 

Visitors, especially if they were close to the decedent or the mourners, or if they live conveniently near the home, may return each day of the Shivah to help make up the minyan for the morning and evening services. Again, it would be especially appropriate for the close friends to undertake this as part of their special relationship. Books for these services will be provided by Temple Beth El. The Rabbis and general members of our Temple Beth El community are available to help the minyan participate in the service.

2. The Psychology of Shivah: 
It is important to understand the development of the mourning process during the Shivah period. The period is properly one of transition. According to modern psychological studies, the few days immediately following the death (especially where the death was sudden and unexpected or the family was psychologically unprepared) are ones of shock, denial, and numbness. (In Jewish tradition, one should not even attempt to comfort the mourner until after the burial and funeral, and thereafter the first 3 days of Shivah are assumed to be of the most intense sort of grief.) Psychologists note that this initial period of several days of shock is followed by a period of acute and intensive mourning that generally gradually diminishes over approximately three to six months (or longer, in some cases). Their studies further show that this is followed by a period of re-adjustment and return to normalcy, which often lasts the remainder of the first year (or longer, in some cases) following the death. It is remarkable how the ancient Jewish traditions of mourning correspond to these most modern psychological insights into grief and the mourning processes. 

Progress in this transition of grieving does not occur in a straight line, however. Most people who have experienced it describe it as recurring waves of deep feelings, interspersed with ever-lengthening periods of “normal” thoughts and behavior. But just as the visitor must not expect the Shivah period to be a seven-day period of continuous and unremitting solemnity, so also the visitor should not trivialize the occasion by converting the condolence call into a cocktail party-type of social event at which discussions of business and current events and gossip are all allowed. The visitor at the home of the Shivah observance is not there to entertain or to be entertained. Only if vulgarity and thoughtlessness are avoided, can the visitor’s presence fulfill its historic and important function of consoling and strengthening the mourners. 

3. Time Period: 
The period of the Shivah is not exactly seven days. Although the funeral is often held in late morning or afternoon, the day of the funeral counts as a full day. The “second” day starts at sundown of the day of the funeral, and the regular Shivah period is completed with the morning of the seventh day (rather than waiting until the evening). For example, if the funeral were held at noon on a Monday, the regular Shivah period would conclude after the morning services on the following Sunday. Although public mourning practices are not observed on the Shabbat, it still counts as one day of the Shivah period.

However, the occurrence of certain Jewish holidays (other than Shabbat) during the regular Shivah period terminates the period (on the theory that the public obligation to participate in the festival observance must take priority over private grief.) The timing of the Shivah period should be determined by the Rabbi when the funeral is planned.

4. Mourners’ Activities: 
During the Shivah period, the mourners are expected to ignore their normal social and business activities and obligations, in order to devote themselves fully to the business of mourning. The mourners are excused from all work. (In cases of genuine economic hardship or medical or public service responsibilities, some exceptions are possible, especially after the first three days, but these should be discussed with the Rabbi.) 

Because a human form has just been lost, any vanities regarding the human form are barred during Shivah. This is expressed by putting aside normal concerns for personal appearance: Mirrors are covered, cosmetics are not used, and in traditional observance, men do not shave and only the minimal bathing necessary for hygiene is performed. 

During the Shivah period the mourners avoid recreation, entertainment or pleasurable activities (radio, television, music, reading for entertainment, etc.). Marital relations are abstained from. However, there is to be no mortification of the flesh or self-injury. For example, the mourners may cook for themselves, if necessary, and do light housekeeping and hygienic bathing, and may read serious works of consolation. 

The mourners traditionally sit on low benches, and wear slippers rather than shoes, perhaps as a means of expressing distinction from everyday activities and luxuries. 

5. Candle: 
Traditionally, a 7-day candle is lit upon the return from the funeral and kept burning during Shivah. The candle flame is thought to symbolize the everlasting influence of the soul of the deceased. The Funeral Director generally furnishes the 7-day candle as part of the service. 

6. Gifts: 
Visitors should not bring or send flowers, candy, or liquor to the home. Instead, the appropriate way of expressing such feelings is for the visitor to make a contribution to a charity in which the deceased or the mourners have been interested. Bringing food for the mourners is appropriate, but individual efforts in this area should be coordinated so that there is no waste or excess.

7. Shabbat: 
Unlike other festival days, Shabbat does not shorten the Shivah period. However, public mourning observances are suspended on Shabbat, and there are no prayer services held at the home. The community does not pay condolence calls. On the other hand, private mourning continues. The mourners attend Shabbat services at the synagogue. 

G. The Sheloshim Period 
Following the Jewish traditional arrangement of gradual transitional periods for mourning (which closely parallel modern psychological studies of the grief process), the balance of the 30-day period from the funeral remaining after the conclusion of Shivah becomes a period of reduced mourning, called Sheloshim (Hebrew: thirty). Although the mourner returns to work at the end of the Shivah, the restrictions against attending celebrations, entertainment events or listening to music continue for the balance of Sheloshim.

H. Mourning Observances For Deceased Parents 
We have already noted how the rending of garments is performed differently for parents (when it is done of the left side—closer to the heart). Traditionally, the general Shivah prohibition against shaving was extended into the Sheloshim period for parents.

In addition, the general restrictions of Sheloshim (the prohibitions against entertainment) are extended to twelve months (according to the Jewish calendar) when mourning for a parent. It is again interesting to note that this one-year period of extended mourning for parents parallels the one-year period commonly stated in contemporary psychological literature as the approximate period often required for termination of the normal grief process. 

Also, persons mourning a parent continue to say the Mourners’ Kaddish prayer at every service for eleven months. Originally, the limitation of Kaddish to eleven, rather than twelve, months was to signify that the deceased parent, being a good person, did not need a whole year of prayer to avoid divine punishment. In contemporary times, the limitation to eleven months may be more meaningfully seen as an expression of the need to put an end to mourning. Indeed, the whole Jewish mourning system of time periods (before the funeral, the first three days of Shivah, the balance of ShivahSheloshim, and the first year for parents), each with its own level of mourning practices, can be seen as insistence upon limitations on the extent of mourning. Under Jewish law, excessive mourning is prohibited; the primary obligation is not to the dead, but always to the self, to the community, to life. 

I. The Customs Of Later Remembrance. 
Even after the conclusion of the formal mourning periods, Judaism recognizes in many ways the reality and permanence of the mourner’s loss. 

1. Tombstone and Unveiling: 
Just as with other elements of the burial ceremonies, the tombstone should not become an instance of elaborate ostentation. It should bear a simple inscription of the name and date of death. It is appropriate to erect the stone no sooner than 30 days and up to 12 months after the death.

It is currently customary for the family to gather for an “unveiling” ceremony for this purpose near the first anniversary after the death. This can be an occasion for the family to share their remembrances, and does not require the presence of a rabbi or cantor. For help in this, see the Unveiling Service in the resources sections, or click here.

2. Yahrzeit: 
The anniversary of the death is commemorated each year by Yahrzeit, a day of prayer and remembrance. The mourner recites the Mourner’s Kaddish at services. A 24-hour candle is also lit in the home (beginning on the evening before the Yahrzeit day). The Yahrzeit day is traditionally determined according to the Hebrew calendar, taking into account that the Hebrew calendar day begins at sundown. Any difficulties in determining the appropriate Yahrzeit day should be resolved by the Rabbis. Temple Beth El or the Funeral Director will be able to furnish the mourners with a schedule of Yahrzeit days for the coming years. You will receive a notification from Temple Beth El each year reminding you when your loved one’s name will be read at Shabbat services for Yahrzeit.

3. Yizkor: 
A special memorial (Yizkor) service is held at the Synagogue on the eighth day of Pesach, the second day of Shavuot, the eighth day of Succot, and on Yom Kippur. Those who have lost a parent, sibling, child, or spouse participate in this service. At Temple Beth El, as in most Synagogues, the entire congregation likewise participates in the Yizkor services, which speak meaningfully about the condition of life to all of us, and not just to mourners.

4. Naming a Child: 
It is an Ashkenazi traditional to name a child after a deceased relative in order to perpetuate the memory and to express hope that the positive qualities of the deceased find expression in the child’s life. The Sephardi practice, however, is to name a child after a living relative.