Death & Mourning

stones on graves

FAQ for Jewish Funerals

Must I shovel dirt into the grave? Why is the coffin not opened for viewing at Jewish funerals? How do I let my friends know that donations to a favorite charity in memory of the deceased would be appreciated? We answer all basics about attending and planning a Jewish funeral.

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Preparing for Death

Death & Mourning 101

Death & Mourning 101

Much attention is paid to treating the dead (and even a dead body) with respect (k'vod ha-met) and to comforting mourners (nichum aveilim).


Jewish tradition invites us to think about our mortality long before our own deaths.

Preparing for Death

Some hasidic rebbes taught their disciples not only how to live, but also how to die.

Ethical Wills

On the Jewish custom of leaving a written spiritual legacy for one's children.

Viddui Confession

Traditional and liberal possibilities for this little-known practice


Practical Aspects

Practical Aspects

From planning, to funeral, to shiva and the year that follows.

Funerals Q & A

This article, in question-and-answer format, addresses common questions about Jewish funeral customs.

Graveside Service

Mourners, friends, and relatives accompany the deceased to the grave and help with the burial.

Stones on Graves

What do the stones symbolize? Where does the custom come from?

Planning a Funeral

A Practical Guide to Preparations for Jewish Burial and Mourning


Bereavement Phases

Bereavement Phases

Jewish mourning customs reflect the natural course of grief and recovery following the death of a loved one.


Shiva is observed in the home as an intensive mourning period for close relatives.


During shiva the entire physical environment of the mourner is transformed to acknowledge the immediacy of death.

How to Make a Shiva Call

Because a shiva call requires total sensitivity to the needs of the mourner, the tradition mandates appropriate behaviors for the visitor.

Ending Shiva

Getting up and walking around the block marks the end of a week of mourning.


Death Teaches About Life

Death Teaches About Life

Death is not a counterpoint or contradiction to life, but a profound teacher about the meaning of human existence.


The Kaddish is recited in a prayer service, on a daily or weekly basis, after the death of a close relative.


The yahrzeit is a time of remembering the dead by reciting the Kaddish, lighting a 24-hour candle, and remembering the person who has died.

Year of Mourning

Jews are commanded to honor their parents while they are alive and to continue to show respect when they die--by mourning for nearly a year.


Customs surrounding the Jewish grave show honor toward the deceased and reflect the teaching that all are equal in death.

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