Death & Grieving
Please notify The Jewish Center office of a death as soon as possible so the Clergy, office and congregation can respond appropriately. Email or call 631-324-9858.

Just as there is a way to live as a Jew, there is also a way to die and be buried as a Jew. Jewish burials take place as quickly as possible, following a principle of k’vod hamet (honoring the dead). Only if immediate relatives cannot arrive in time from afar, or there is not enough time for burial before Shabbat or a holiday, are burials postponed for a day.
You will need to contact a cemetery to purchase a plot and a funeral home to transfer the body and schedule the time of the funeral. Jewish law mandates a simple wood coffin, so although you may need to choose a plot, you don’t need to concern yourself with elaborate decisions about coffins, cremation or embalming, which are discouraged by halacha (Jewish Law). 

Traditional Jewish funerals are very simple and usually relatively brief.  Before they begin, the immediate relatives of the deceased – siblings, parents, children, and spouse – tear their garments or a black ribbon to symbolize their loss. Sometimes the Rabbi will tear their garments or ribbon for them and recite a blessing.  During the ceremony that follows, Psalms are recited, then a eulogy and the memorial prayer. The casket is then carried or wheeled out of the room (accompanied by the 23rd Psalm in many funerals) with the mourners following behind the casket.

Those attending remain standing until the family mourners have left the room.  At the cemetery, once the coffin is lowered into the grave, family and close friends cover the coffin with a few handfuls of dirt or totally cover it.

In traditional funerals, before leaving the cemetery mourners wash their hands as a symbolic cleansing.

After the burial, it is customary for the family to observe Shiva (the initial mourning period).  This was traditionally observed for seven days, although many Reform and other Jews now observe Shiva for three days, and some for one day. Traditional Jews cover all mirrors during this time; however, this is not a requirement.  It is customary for friends and family of the deceased as well as friends of the deceased's relatives to pay a Shiva call to the designated location where people are observing Shiva, usually at the home of a close family member.  When paying a Shiva call it is appropriate to bring food, because the person mourning is not supposed to worry about such mundane matters.  Being surrounded by family and close friends often helps mourners cope with the immediate loss.  Often, family members find great solace from sharing memories of the deceased during the Shiva period. Please share stories that you may have about the deceased with the mourners.

Our congregation has its own cemetery, Shaarey Pardes, located at 306 Old Stone Highway. It is available to our members as a final resting place. Please call the temple office for more information.
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Copyright 2017  The Jewish Center of the Hamptons. 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937 P. 631.324.9858 F. 631.329.6654.

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