​Post Mourning Practice and Procedures

An excerpt from The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, by Maurice Lamm The initial sadness of the loss of a loved one evaporates in a world that demands our constant attention, but death does not easily slip out of our memory banks. The Jewish tradition insists that the dead not be forgotten, lost in the business of the here and now. Although the Sages also were insistent that the bereaved not mourn overly much, they provided guideposts to insure keeping that memory from departing completely.

Unveiling Customs

In Jewish burial tradition, a grave should be marked as soon as possible. All of our cemeteries provide temporary markers until the permanent memorial is placed. It's important to note that the process for a proper design and cut of a monument could take up to 4 months, depending on the complexity of the design.

Feldman Mortuary will send the family a reminder after the Sheloshim period, approximately 30 days after the funeral. This is a reminder to prompt you to start thinking about the monument and avoid that last minute rush for an unveiling.

Selecting the memorial starts with the stone itself; you'll need to select the size, shape, color and other basics about the rock. You'll choose the engraving style, the text and any images that will be on the stone. Often, monument companies will meet families in the cemetery for that is the best showroom. It allows the family to see sizes, design choices and maybe most importantly, how the monument weathers with varying water and soil conditions, including how colors hold when exposed to the elements.

Formally Unveiling the Monument

​The service of unveiling or commemoration is a formal dedication of the monument. Jewish funeral customs dictate that the we hold the unveiling within the first year after death. It can be held at anytime between the end of shivah and the first yahrzeit.

Unveilings are held on specific days when grave visitations may be made, as outlined below. They are held in all weather and precisely on time. With heavy demand on rabbis for Sundays for unveilings, it is advisable to arrange the date with the rabbi many weeks or even months in advance.

The unveiling ceremony is the formal removal of a veil, cloth, or handkerchief draped over the stone. It symbolizes the completion of the tombstone. The unveiling may be performed during the service by anyone the family designates.

The service consists of the recitation of several Psalms: 1, 15, 23, 90, 91, 103, and 121, and, on certain days, when the Tachanun prayer is not recited, Psalm 16; a eulogy; the removal of the veil; and the El Mal’e Rachamim and Kaddish. For purposes of reciting the Kaddish, a minyan is required, consisting of all Jewish male adults present. If no minyan is available, the unveiling may still be held, but without the Kaddish.

The rabbi may suggest placing a pebble on the monument upon leaving, a custom that serves as a reminder of the family’s presence. Also, it may hark back to Biblical days when the monument was a heap of stones. Often, the elements, or roving vandals, dispersed them, and visitors placed additional stones to assure that the grave was marked.

Customarily, a rabbi will deliver the eulogy; however, the family may designate a family member or friend to do this. If the rabbi was not personally acquainted with the deceased, it is advisable to outline the deceased’s life and goals before the service. The eulogy will reflect the sincerity and devotion of those providing the information.

Unveiling cards designed to reserve the date are often are sent to friends and family several weeks in advance. One should be sent to the Rabbi as well. Care should be taken to record the precise location of the grave, with clear, specific instructions on how to reach the cemetery and the gravesite. Eating and drinking on the cemetery grounds is in questionable taste and should be discouraged. Feldman Mortuary has a library of appropriate readings for an unveiling service. Please contact us for more information.

See our unveiling FAQs