In these very modern and clinical days where most ailments of a serious nature are treated in hospital or hospice, death is heard but not seen on a daily basis as it was in days past.
The days of a Chevra (Holy Burial Society) attending on the bereaved at home and preparing the body are rare.
According to the law of the land once a person passes, in order for the body to be taken to a Jewish Mortuary, a death certificate from a medical practitioner and a green slip from a Registrar of Deaths (disposal certificate) must be obtained
The body is prepared by the Chevra Kadisha burial society. This is called Tahara. The body is ritually washed and dressed in white shrouds and placed in a coffin.
A male is dressed in a tallit he used for prayer during his lifetime.
Both males and females have soil from Israel placed in the coffin.
Until the funeral, the bereaved are absolved from religious practice i.e. prayers etc.
You are obliged to mourn for a parent, spouse, sibling and a child.
This is called Shiva where you remain at home for 7 days.
After the funeral, one should eat the first meal prepared by a friend.
The funeral should take place as soon as possible.
A garment should be cut by the Chevra prior to the burial. This is called Keriah.
Small chairs, low to the ground, are provided by the shul for the mourners.
Prayers are normally held once a day, usually in the evening and traditionally at 8pm
Shiva is therapeutic, remembering old times and special moments about the recently departed and at the same time resolving how to go forward in own lives, dealing with this new situation.
Once the Shiva week has ended, a gradual process of mourning the departed continues with Sheloshim for the remainder of the 30 days following burial and, for a Parent, the 12 months during which, for 11 months, Kaddish should be recited daily with a minyan in Shul.
The Funeral Service
This is a surreal experience, which is difficult to comprehend
Taking the form of prayers in Hebrew and English and a eulogy given by the Minister and on occasion by Yourself, a Family Member or Friend
The eulogy outlines the person’s qualities and achievements.
The officiating Clergy will contact you after being notified of the sad news.
We realise this a sensitive and emotional time and every assistance will be given to support you in your loss.
Rabbi Anthony Gilbert
Minister Etz Chaim