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Jewish Practices Immediately Following Death

A yellow Maple Leaf is lying on gravestone with the star of David symbol. Jewish cemetery background

At Fox Monuments, we have years of experience as a leading provider of Jewish monuments for Long Island. Providing guidance and support for the Jewish community in times of hardship has always been our highest priority. As Long Island’s most trusted provider of Jewish monuments, we hold Jewish tradition in high esteem.

The Jewish faith has rich historical significance. There are thousands of customs, practices and rituals that govern Jewish culture. Their practices regarding death and mourning are no different. The Meal of Consolation , Chevra Kadisha, and Shiva are just a few of the notable Jewish traditions passed down through generations of Jewish families.

Most of the customs we’ve discussed in previous posts concern how the bereaved family proceeds during and after the burial. However, according to the Talmud and Kabbalah, the time directly after death is a crucial transition period. The belief is that directly after a death, the deceased experiences as much hardship as their family.

In this post, we’ll discuss the Jewish customs practiced in the period directly after a death. Read on for more information.


The Transition

Jewish texts describe the period right after death as a challenging transition. Naturally, the family is devastated and doing their best to cope with their loss. However, the Talmud and Kabbalah states that the soul of the deceased is experiencing its own challenges.

The Jewish belief system states that the souls of their dead do not leave the world until after the burial. Disconnected from its former life and body, the soul is in a vulnerable state. This is why burials occur as quickly as possible. It is also believed that the presence and prayers of loved ones at the funeral is an enormous comfort to the soul.

Many of the grieving family members find comfort in their belief that the soul remains conscious and aware. It provides a consolation for them to view their loved one as going through a period of transition.



Immediately following a passing, decisions must be made. This is not necessarily unique, as in all religions, the family must make arrangements.

Many common burial traditions violate Jewish custom, however. Jewish law forbids practices by modern morticians, as they are considered a violation of the body. They are viewed as disrespectful to the deceased.

The grieving families must take these restrictions into consideration when making decisions. In some cases, there are no official documents left by the departed with specific guidelines.



Within the immediate moments after a death, holy rituals are conducted. A few primary factors are taken into consideration. Maintaining the dignity of the deceased is first and foremost. The body must return to the earth from which it came. The soul must receive guidance and strength throughout its spiritual journey.

Directly following the moment of death, those present recite the “True Judge” blessing, “Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.” This translates to “blessed be the true judge.” The complete version of this prayer is said during the funeral service, along with the Kaddish.

The eyes and mouth are then closed by whoever is present. A sheet is draped over the body to cover it. Many elect a child or close relative to perform this task. The body of the deceased is then placed on the floor. If death occurs in a hospital, this is most likely not possible. However, all of the other customs should be observed.

Candles are then lit and placed around the head of the body. If the body is lowered to the floor, those lowering the body should ask forgiveness of the departed. Once the candles are lit, Psalms 23, 90 and 91 are recited.

Once these Psalms have been recited, the funeral home and rabbi should be contacted. It’s important to inform the funeral home that a Taharah will be needed. Plan your memorial service accordingly.


The Vigil

According to the Jewish faith, the human body is a sacred vessel. The privacy, dignity and virtue of the body is under holy protection in Jewish tradition. After the passing, this body remains equally as deserving of reverence. Those near the deceased are expected to conduct themselves with grace and dignity in order to demonstrate the proper respect for the dead.

A shemira (honor guard) remains with the body as often as possible, if not constantly. Anyone keeping vigil over the body recites prayers or psalms to comfort to the soul of the departed.


Restrictions & Ritual

Autopsies, embalming, displays and cremation are considered a violation of the body.

The burial happens as soon as possible. Since Jewish custom forbids posthumous medical practices to preserve the body’s sanctity, the funeral must take place immediately.



Judaism is a faith rich with stories and tradition. The specific rituals following death have deep significance to the faithful. Like many of the other Jewish death traditions, it helps to bring closure and consolation to the family in mourning.

Fox Monuments works with Long Island’s Jewish community, providing them with memorials that are a tribute to their faith. We understand the importance of religion in healing from loss.

Honoring Departed Loved Ones During Hanukkah

Two happy Jewish sisters looking at a beautiful menorah candelabra glowing on the eight day of Hanukkah Jewish holiday

Hanukkah is, without a doubt, one of the most profound milestones within the Jewish faith. In simplest terms, it is an eight-day-and-night celebration of the tenacity of the Jewish spirit. Without a doubt, considering its supreme importance in Judaism, Hanukkah is, like Shiva, a quintessential opportunity to remember and celebrate those we’ve lost.

At Fox Monuments, we’ve helped Long Island’s Jewish community honor and celebrate their faith for decades. Traditions and practices regarding the end of life and lost loved ones is an incredibly significant (and complex) aspect of the Jewish faith. Therefore, part of our mission is to provide the kind of compassion, guidance and unforgettable service that pays both respect to lost loved ones and the appropriate reverence to faith.

In this post, we’ll explore five ways you can honor departed loved ones as you observe Hanukkah this year.

1. Storytelling Around the Lights

Once the menorah is lit, many families observe the tradition of singing songs, reading specific passages and reciting prayers. Mostly, the songs and prayers vary by family, as each have their own specific selections that they find most meaningful or appropriate. However, this is also an excellent opportunity to honor the memories of your lost loved ones.

If you’ve lost someone recently, this will be an even more impactful and emotional practice. Take a few minutes to share everyone’s collective memories of your loved one, and perhaps have others tell their favorite story about them. Even the simple act of acknowledging them, discussing, or just speaking their name out loud can be enormously significant.

Going around the room, give everyone present the opportunity to express gratitude for the ways the departed impacted their life. Hanukkah is the perfect time of year to firmly acknowledge that their enduring memories and legacy remain alive, as long as they live on in you.

2. Put Photos On Display

Of course, we take (and keep) photos so that our memories, and those we love, can live on long after we take them. Therefore, Hanukkah is the perfect time to put these pictures on display – not just to honor those you’ve lost, but to fondly remember Hanukkahs of the past.

Hanukkah is a time to revisit our collective history, celebrate our triumphs and remember our past. While Hanukkah is technically about revisiting our history on a collective scale, for all Jews, that doesn’t mean you can’t also acknowledge your personal memories, as well. Put a picture of those you’ve lost on prominent display, perhaps near the menorah. As a result, this will likely inspire whoever’s present to share specific memories and stories about them.

3. Prayers Following the Lighting

The spiritual teachings of Judaism enforce the idea that the moment a menorah candle flickers is a favorable time for prayer. One of these prayers can be a personal, heartfelt expression of our enduring love for whoever we’ve lost.

Of course, it’s very likely that you won’t be able to complete your prayers without sadness, and probably some tears. But that’s perfectly fine – it’s okay, likely even advisable, for you to have the cry you deserve. Feelings of loss, grief and sorrow are perfectly normal emotions. Also, expressing them is a healthy, typical, and necessary part of the process. Let your family and friends support you during this overwhelming moment.

In fact, mental health and grief experts tell us that experiencing the pain, rather than consistently trying to evade it, actually gives us advanced coping skills. Also, it helps us to feel better in the long-term.

4. Prepare Their Favorite Foods

There are fewer more resolute ways to honor a loved one (present or departed) than by preparing their favorite meals. Much like other Jewish holidays throughout the year, Hanukkah is a time to actualize our faith and gratitude with a festive, splendid meal. The Meal of Consolation isn’t the only meal that we may eat in memory of our departed loved ones.

Were there any specific recipes that your loved one was especially fond of?Was there anything they would often prepare themselves? What was their all-time favorite food? Contributing their favorite, or their signature, dish is a fantastic way to honor them. Also, this will allow you to share their memory with the friends and family present.

Conclusion – Fox Monuments

From our family at Fox Monuments, we wish you and your family the very safest, healthiest and happiest of Hanukkahs! This has been an especially challenging year for us all, and you and your loved ones deserve an exceptional holiday season to finish this year with a bit of celebration.

Hanukkah is a day about hope, and to remind us of our historical ability to triumph over adversity. Therefore, it’s important to keep the spirit of Hanukkah in mind as we conclude a particularly difficult year.v

Happy holidays from Fox Monuments!

Preparing for Shiva: the Shiva Home

grieving family

When someone in your family dies, there are a lot of things to take care of. One of the most important is making sure that the home is ready for shiva. Shiva is a Jewish mourning ritual that lasts for seven days. During shiva, the family of the deceased gathers in their home to mourn and remember their loved one. There are many things you can do to prepare your home for shiva. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most important things you need to know! We at Fox Monuments want to help you through this difficult time, and these tips will make the process a little easier.

When and Where is Shiva Held

In the Jewish tradition, the funeral is held as soon as possible. This practice helps the soul to move into a peaceful place early on and allows the family to process their grief.

Shiva is held immediately after the funeral, usually on the day of the burial. The mourners return to the home of the deceased, and shiva lasts for seven days. Shiva is the second stage of mourning.

How to Prepare the Shiva Home

There are many Shiva preparations that the family must make before starting the 7-day mourning period.

  1. The family sits on cushions or low chairs. It is traditional to sit on low chairs or stools during shiva. This is because sitting low to the ground is a sign of humility and grief.
  2. Cover all mirrors and pictures. During shiva, all mirrors and pictures in the house are covered. This is because Jewish tradition teaches that during shiva, we should not be concerned with our own appearance. We are focusing on mourning our loved one, and we do not want to be distracted by our own reflection.
  3. Keep doors unlocked. During shiva, the doors to the house are kept unlocked. This is so that people can come and go as they please.
  4. Burn memorial candles. Memorial candles are burned during shiva. These candles represent the soul of the person who died.
  5. Set out food and drinks. Food and drinks are set out for visitors during shiva. This is so that visitors will have something to eat and drink while they are in the house.
  6. Prepare handwashing stations. As family and friends enter, they are expected to wash their hands. Some families will set up a wash basin outside or just inside the front door. Others will allow mourners to go right into the bathroom or kitchen. This ritual cleanses their hands and prepares them to comfort those who have suffered a loss.


Customs for the Mourning Family

Depending on the family’s preferences, customs will vary. Families will choose which of the mourning customs they are most comfortable with. Typically, the older generations will follow these customs more closely.

Excusal from Work

Throughout Shiva, the family is excused from work and household duties. Meals are prepared by friends or relatives. It is customary for the Shiva house to be left tidy each night so that the mourners can return to a clean space after their day of reflection.

Wear Torn Clothing

The bereaved wear torn clothing as a sign of grief. The clothes do not have to be ripped, but many people will wear an article of clothing that is torn or cut. This is usually done on the day of the funeral.

Stay within the Home

Mourners are not supposed to leave the house during shiva, except for necessary errands like buying food.

Grooming and Dress

Traditionally, mourners do not shave, cut their hair, or wear leather shoes during shiva. This is done as a way of showing respect for the deceased.


Children under the age of thirteen are exempt from shiva. They are considered too young to fully understand death. Pregnant women are also exempt because it is considered bad luck to mourn while you are carrying new life.

The Meal of Consolation

Also known as the meal of condolence, the meal of consolation follows the family’s return from the cemetery. It is a opportunity for friends and neighbors to provide support and express their condolences.

The food is brought in by friends or neighbors and left in the kitchen. The family does not have to prepare the meal themselves.

The Meal of Consolation marks the beginning of Shiva. It is intended to help the family recover from stress.


The death of a loved one is a difficult time. Following the Jewish tradition of Shiva can help to bring some structure and order during this chaotic time. By preparing your home and yourself, you can create a space for grief and support.

Jewish Mourning Tradition: Shiva

Jewish Headstone in cemetery

The Shiva is central to the Jewish burial traditions. Serving as the first of several stages of mourning, the Shiva helps family members to stand together while grieving. Long before unveiling the cemetery monument, the Shiva offers families an opportunity to gather and console each other. Read on to learn more about the Shiva service, and the customs surrounding it.

What is Shiva?

The Shiva is a very significant part of the grieving process for Jewish people. After a Jewish person passes away, the family is responsible for burying the individual as quickly as possible. Then, it’s traditional for extended family members, friends, and members of the community to gather and pay their respects during the shiva.

The shiva is generally held in the home of the deceased, or a family member. To demonstrate a state of mourning, those attending wear either torn clothing or a black ribbon to denote mourning status. They are also expected to bring food, as a way of providing sustenance for those in mourning. Like selecting Long Island Jewish Monuments, paying attention to the shiva process is critical.

Traditionally, there is an expectation for family in mourning to refrain from pleasurable activities. This includes watching television, listening to music, and other forms of entertainment.

As indicated by Jewish customs, the shiva should last seven days. In fact, shiva means seven in Hebrew. However, in modern times, some families shorten this period of mourning. Throughout each day, families and those attending say the Mourner’s Kaddish.


The Shiva Home

To prepare for the Shiva, the family will prepare the home in a certain way. Over time, Jewish people in different regions have developed varying practices. Generally, though, the underlying principles surrounding these practices has remained the same. Like the principles behind selecting a Long Island Jewish monument, Jewish people take great care in preparing a Shiva home.

In the Ashkenazi tradition, mourners must sit on low stools. This is notably different from the Sephardic practices, in which mourners sit on either the floor or pillows. Both of these practices symbolize that the mourners are in low spirits, due to their recent loss.

Additionally, mourners are likely to cover all mirrors in the home. The reason for this is twofold. First, covering mirrors discourages vanity, creating an environment that allows for introspection and reflection. Secondly, and more traditionally, covering mirrors prevents the spirit of the deceased from becoming trapped. Regardless of the interpretation, covering the mirrors is an important element of the shiva home.

As a way of allowing mourners to continue grieving undisturbed, the family typically leaves the doors unlocked.

A fairly recent tradition adopted from Christian customs, some families have a condolence book intended to give families the opportunity to thank mourners.

The family also generally lights a Yahrzeit Candle in the home. This creates the proper atmosphere for grieving, without using any electrical lighting.

Finally, mourners should remove their shoes, as a way of demonstrating grief.


The Origin of Shiva

The Torah mentions the idea behind a period of mourning several times.

During the early periods of Judaism, mourners noticed that feasting in joy was inappropriate during a time of grief. Instead, they viewed this time as an opportunity to express, process and overcome their grief.

Later on, Moses solidified this practice as a formal custom. The progression of this custom is fairly similar to that of the Long Island Jewish monuments. In the beginning, the unveiling tradition existed because it took time to create the monument. Now, this principle exists as a manner of tradition, deeply embedded within Jewish culture.


How Long Does the Shiva Last?

In accordance with these customs, the shiva lasts for seven days. However, this does not include the Shabbat, or major Jewish holidays. Beyond the grieving period, these seven days also establish the idea that mourning should be taken as seriously as feasting, which also lasts for seven days. In fact, the Shiva ends long before the unveiling of the Long Island Jewish monuments.

After this period ends, the family customarily leaves the home. This symbolizes “rising from the Shiva”, or moving on in the grieving process.

Following the Shiva, the next step in the grieving process is the Shloshim, in which the family re-enters the world. In some circles, though, family members are not permitted to engage in leisurely activities.


Long Island Jewish Monuments from Fox Monuments

At Fox Monuments, we understand the state of grief that mourners are in after the death of a loved one. Being familiar with Jewish customs, we do our best to accommodate all of our customers. To purchase well-crafted Long Island Jewish monuments that are right for your family members, contact us.

Proper Attire at Jewish Funerals

Interestingly, a common question that many people ask about Jewish funeral services involves the best attire. Obviously, this is a question we ask ourselves on a daily basis – what should we wear? For most occasions, we have a pretty general idea of the best way to dress. However, when there’s been a profound loss and we want to pay our respects, we might question what is or isn’t appropriate. Last month, we discussed flowers and how they’re inappropriate for Jewish funerals.


What do I wear to a Jewish funeral?

In this post, we’ll break down the policies regarding attire for Jewish funeral services…

1. Colors & Clothing

Obviously, when it comes to wake or funerals, solemn and conservative clothing is your best option. Here in the U.S., we wear dark clothing throughout the stages of mourning. (Additionally, in many eastern cultures, they wear white to funerals, as black is unlucky to them.)

Since this is a time of grief and mourning, bright and lurid attire definitely is not acceptable. Obviously, anything you put on should be neat, clean and tidy. Men should stick with suits, slacks, ties and dress shirts. Women should wear dresses in the black, brown or grey shades. Additionally, women should keep in mind that while it’s a formal occasion, you may have to walk through unstable cemetery terrain. While you want to be respectful, you should also be comfortable.

2. Yarmulkes

One of the touchstones of the Jewish religion is the yarmulke. At any formal Jewish occasion, like weddings or funerals, people use them to cover their heads. Most people pronounce yarmulke as “yah-muh-kah.” The word is Slavic for “skullcap.”

Essentially, a yarmulke is a representation of one’s firm commitment to the Jewish faith. Usually, men wear yarmulkes at formal Jewish occasions, like when sitting Shiva. However, it’s not unheard of for some women or girls to wear them, as well. No matter your creed or faith, most men or women wear yarmulkes to formal Jewish occasions. Usually, the chapel or family will provide them for all mourners present to wear them out of respect. At many Jewish funerals, women choose to wear scarves or lace head coverings.

3. Dressing for the Weather

Usually, Jewish grave site burials take place any day, any time of the year, regardless of inclement weather. If the funeral is scheduled to take place throughout the summer months, you should still place a high priority on dressing appropriately. Obviously, you want to be comfortable but still keep it tasteful and respectful. There are ways to stay cool and comfortable but also remain formal!

If the burial takes place throughout the winter, naturally you’ll want to dress as warmly as possible. Remember gloves, hats, scarves, and umbrellas if it’s raining!



At Fox Memorials, creating Jewish monuments to honor those we’ve lost is our mission. For years, we’ve helped Long Island’s Jewish community create all kinds of exceptional memorials. By continuing to revere Jewish customs, we craft monuments that are as much a tribute to faith as to the lives of those we’ve lost.

We’ve celebrated and served Long Island’s Jewish community for decades. Each month, we examine and discuss the rich tapestry of tradition surrounding the Jewish faith. Judaism is among the world’s most ancient and revered religions. Therefore, it has a countless array of practices and customs when it comes to the end of life and funerals.

Jewish Monument Buying Guide

star of david on headstone

In the Jewish tradition, it’s customary to make arrangements for a loved one’s funeral and burial immediately following death. This can be an emotionally distressing time, between contacting family members, friends, all while coping with your loss. And, while pre-planning your Jewish monument is the ideal route, this is not always a financial or logistical possibility. Ordering a Jewish monument that will serve as a final representation of your loved one’s time in life is imperative. In this blog post, we’ll describe the various steps involved in designing this monument.


1. Check on Jewish Cemetery Regulations

As you make arrangements for your loved one, you’ll likely explore the possibility of burial in a few cemeteries. Jewish cemeteries tend to have rather strict rules regarding the type of monuments that can be put in place. Some cemeteries permit double Jewish monuments, while others prohibit this. Additionally, some Jewish cemeteries will not permit headstones of certain materials. So, before settling on a cemetery, you should also confirm that you will be able to place your headstone there.

jewish headstone with rocks on top


2. Explore the Various Types of Jewish Headstones

There are multiple different styles of headstones, and depending on the regulations of the cemetery you selected, you may be able to use one or more.

  • Upright Jewish Monuments: The most common style of headstone, the upright monument is what tends to come to mind when people think of a headstone. This Jewish monument style is available in several materials. While somewhat of a standard, upright Jewish monuments may also be considered too large for some cemeteries.
  • Slant Monuments: Slant monuments are a proportionately smaller version of upright monuments. They still stand upright, but do not leave the same amount of room for text as upright monuments. And, while you can include some text, it may not be as large as it would be on a larger monument.
  • Footmarkers: Rather than being raised above the ground, foot markers are placed directly in the ground, with the text of the monument facing the sky. As the smallest type of Jewish monument, foot markers are the only monument permitted in some cemeteries without ample space. So, for families looking to bury their loved one in a cemetery with space regulations, this can be the ideal choice. Foot markers are also the most affordable Jewish monument option.
  • Benches: While it may not be a direct replacement for a Jewish monument, memorial benches are a meaningful way to remember a loved one. When placed in or around your home, it can serve as a friendly reminder of the individual.
  • Mausoleums: This expensive burial option is not as common now as it once was, but is a very honorable way to remember your loved ones.


3. Determine Your Budget

Unfortunately, the ideal Jewish monument may lie outside of your budget. After investigating price points and cemetery space availability, you’ll need to consider the financial aspect of this process. These are some of the costs that you should take into account:

  • Burial plot
  • Cost of memorial
  • Funeral
  • Headstone personalization

When corresponding with a Jewish headstone company, feel free to mention your budget. Once they have this number in mind, the salespeople can guide you toward a solution that fits this price range.


4. Select a Jewish Headstone Supplier

Next, you should select a company to purchase the Jewish headstone from. This is an important decision, as the quality of the headstone can vary based on the supplier. Before making this decision, be sure to review the quality of their previous work. The right Jewish headstone supplier will have examples, reviews, and be eager to make a positive impression.


5. Decide Which Material Your Loved One’s Headstone Should Be

Granite, marble and bronze are the most popular Jewish headstone materials. The material can have an impact on the appearance of the headstone. However, there are other variables that you should also consider when selecting the material.

Durability should be a major factor in this decision. Granite is the most durable material, and for that reason, is a common choice. Over time, weather tends to damage all Jewish headstones, regardless of the other conditions. While granite will last much longer, you will likely need to have it repaired at some point.



6. Jewish Headstone Finish

In addition to selecting the material, another aesthetic choice is deciding which finish the headstone should be. Most Jewish monument companies offer several different finishes. And, the finish of the headstone may also have an impact on its long-term durability.


7. Choosing an Epitaph for the Jewish Headstone

The epitaph of the Jewish headstone can truly capture the essence of the deceased individual. It should serve to describe the individual in a positive light, and convey their best attributes or accomplishments.

The source of an epitaph can vary. For some individuals, it may make sense to find a quote from the Torah that is fitting. For others, a literary quote may be a fitting addition. Song lyrics may also be a fitting choice. Regardless, be sure that the Jewish headstone epitaph describes the deceased individual well.


8. Other Inscriptions and Font

In addition to the epitaph, there will likely be plenty of other text on your loved one’s Jewish headstone. All headstones should contain an inscription with vital information like the name, birth and death dates. But, many headstones also feature other information. For example, most headstones also describe the relationships that the deceased individual held. Because of this, you should pay close attention to the font (or fonts) that the headstone utilizes. Some traditional families also choose to include the Hebrew name. A qualified headstone company will help you make this decision.


9. Jewish Symbols

Finally, choosing headstone symbols is another important aspect of this process. Often, Jewish headstone symbols stand as a symbol of one’s commitment to God and their family. They also serve as a beacon of support.



Jewish Headstones Long Island

At Fox Memorials, we understand that ordering a monument is stressful. Over the years, our staff have helped many people to make sense of these options and create the ideal monument. We can guide you through this process and ensure that you have all of the information you need at each step.

3 Common Mistakes of Memorial Planning

jewish mourning

Planning a funeral or memorial service is never easy, but after the loss of a loved one it is unavoidable. Naturally, during such a difficult time, making mistakes is a fairly common occurrence. In this post, we’ve come up with three common memorial planning mistakes you should avoid making. These apply whether you’re preplanning a service for yourself or after the loss of a loved one.

1. Not Exploring Funeral Providers

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)’s latest survey explores why this is a common mistake. Interestingly, the four primary reasons respondents selected a funeral home include experience at the home. Basically, they already knew the funeral director; the location; and its reputation.

Take the time to compare funeral providers in your area. It could save you money and help you locate “the best” funeral home, crematory or cemetery for your needs. Burial and cremation expenses can vary quite a bit depending on where you go. Often, you will receive the same products/services.

2. Not Asking Questions

Obviously, after the loss of a loved one, it’s hard to focus on anything other than your grief. Unfortunately, many people must plan the Jewish funeral or cremation service, which can involve making a lot of decisions. Of course, grieving can compel you to make quick decisions without exploring all of your options. Whether you’re planning a funeral in advance or after a loss, you should ask every question you have about the service.

Good funeral homes provide a wide range of resources to walk you through each step of planning a service for your loved one. In addition, they’ll answer all of your questions and never make you feel pressured as you make your arrangements, or steer you toward anything that you don’t want. Also, they’ll take the time to understand the type of service you need and explain the various product and service options available to help you arrange a meaningful, personalized service.

If you’re making arrangements after the loss of a Jewish loved one, it’s perfectly normal to ask someone you trust to attend the funeral arrangement meeting with you – especially if you think you’re not up to it alone, or want another opinion before you commit to something.

3. Not Telling Anyone

According to the NFDA, 62.5% of consumers feel that it’s important to share funeral wishes with family members, but only 21.4% did so in 2017. Maybe you’ve thought about your funeral in detail, right down to what you’d like to wear and which songs you’d like played. But if you don’t document and share your wishes, who will know?

Some people may just choose burial or cremation or casually mention their desires and think that’s all that’s needed. Grieving family members may not remember what you said you wanted or disagree about what they think you wanted. By documenting your plans with a funeral home – and letting your family know – you eliminate the confusion and take the burden off your family.

Conclusion – Fox Memorials

Of course, memorial planning can be an incredibly emotional and painful process. However, at Fox Memorials, we work hard to remove all of the stress and challenges of personalized Jewish family monument creation from the process. For decades, we’ve crafted Long Island’s Jewish community with stunning, one-of-a-kind monument creations that honor their lives and their faith.

10 Things You Should Know About Jewish Funerals

older woman with family member

In the Jewish tradition, there’s no honor more sacred than helping to bury someone, because it is a favor that cannot be returned. Also, it’s an honor people often avoid: death is frightening, graves are sad, and loss is painful. Of course, Jewish funeral etiquette is slightly different from secular or Christian American customs. In this post, we’ll explore ten things you should know about attending Jewish funerals. 

1. Don’t Stay Away

Obviously, it may be tempting to “have a prior commitment” when there’s a death that occurs within our circle of friends. However, it’s a positive thing to attend funerals, even when you have only a vague relationship with the deceased. Of course, the deceased won’t know you’re there, but to the mourners, it’s a comfort to be in the company of their community, especially their friends.

2. Your Presence is Important

Basically, you don’t need to say too much to mourners. In fact, the less said, the better. Obviously, nothing you say is going to heal their pain. What will help most is your presence at the funeral or at shiva. Sincerely express your condolences if you must, but in Jewish tradition, there’s no need to say anything at all unless the mourner initiates the conversation. Mostly, what will help is for you to let them know that they have supportive friends at their side. 

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Dress nicely, but wear sensible shoes if you’re going to the graveside. Cemetery grounds are often extremely plushy, often wet and muddy grass. If it will be difficult to walk in those shoes, they’ll be miserable in a cemetery. You don’t want to be trapped in the mud by very expensive (and ruined) stiletto heels.

4. Keep Behavior Respectful

If you find friends there, just remember that this is a funeral: speak quietly. Once the service begins, be quiet. Turn off your cell phone for the service.

5. Listening

There is very little required of the congregation at a funeral. Your job is simply to be present. There will be a few prayers, some psalms, a eulogy, and traditional prayers, El Maleh Rachamim and the Mourner’s Kaddish. Say “amen” along with the congregation, if you wish. The reward for listening is that you’ll learn things about this person that you didn’t know before. You may hear some wonderful stories.

6. Following Directions

The funeral director will give directions before and after the service. Do whatever he or she prompts you to do: park here, sit there, stand, don’t walk there.  Complying with directions is one way to support the mourners and give respect to the dead.

7. Graveside Etiquette

Some funerals move from a chapel to the cemetery, some are held at the monument’s graveside. And, if you don’t know the family well, it’s okay to attend the chapel service, and then skip the graveside service. It’s assumed to be more private. In addition, there will likely be chairs under an awning facing the open grave. Those chairs are for mourners; you do not want to sit in them unless you are a member of the family or disabled.

There will be a few prayers or readings, the casket will lower, and the officiant may assist the family in the ancient custom of shoveling earth into the grave. One or three shovelfuls is typical, and after the family, other attendees may assist. It’s a symbolic way of participating in caring for the body by putting it safely in the earth during burial. Again: follow directions; this is an extremely sensitive time for the family and you don’t want to disrupt the flow of the service.

8. Shiva Customs

There may be an announcement about shiva, the gathering at the home for (traditionally) seven days after the burial. If the family announces specific times, go only at those times. At the shiva house, remember that your presence is what matters. You cannot make their pain go away with words.

Mourners need time and space to mourn, and it is an act of kindness to give them the opportunity to do so. Usually, there’s a short service at the shiva house in the morning and evening. You can linger, but do not overstay: when people start leaving, go. Keep in mind that this is not a party, the mourners are not “entertaining.” Sending or bringing prepared food is a very nice thing to do; when in doubt, send kosher food.

9. Making Donations

Most families will designate a charity to which donations may be made in memory of the dead, and most non-profits are happy to send a card to the mourners telling them about your gift. Like consolation gifts, this is not required, but it is a very nice thing to do. Which brings us to:

10. You Won’t See These:

  • Flowers – instead, Jews give donations to a memorial fund. 
  • An open casket – We don’t look at a dead person unnecessarily, since they cannot look back at us.
  • A fancy casket – Traditionally, Jewish caskets are plain, unfinished wood.
  • Talk about the afterlife – Most Jews focus on doing good in this life. We don’t know for sure what happens after death, and we tend not to worry about it much. Some think there is an afterlife, some don’t.



Of course, there is much more to learn about Jewish funerals and mourning practice. And at Fox Memorials, helping Long Island’s Jewish community honor their loved ones with magnificent, enduring tributes to their loved ones with monuments is our daily mission. For more information on Fox Memorials or our services, contact us now. 

5 Things to Know About Jewish Loss

Jewish cemetery monument

The ways in which a Jew observes and celebrates Judaism are many. There is a variety of observation levels on Long Island.

At Fox Monuments, we can assist you with every detail. Whether you are Orthodox, Conservative, or Reformed, we have the perfect monument for your loved one. The sages once said that to be a Jew is to be Jewish enough. No matter how you observe, let us help you.

What You Need To Know

Whether you are Jewish or not, having lost a loved one or wanting to support those in mourning is a noble act. Surprisingly, it can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with certain traditions or procedures.

1) Important Terms and Phrases

  • Alav Hashalom– “Peace be Upon Him/Her” Also written as A”H. This is the Jewish version of saying rest in peace.
  • Aninut- “Deep Sorrow”. This refers to a time period. It is the time in which the loved one learned of the death to the burial.
  • Baruch Dayan HaEmet- “ Blessed is the True Judge”. Words offered to the grieving immediate relative. These words are expressed traditionally as the relative tears the black piece of fabric they will wear on their clothes during Shiva.
  • Keriah “Tearing”. The immediate family performs this custom.  It is a small garment worn for 30 days after the burial. Siblings and spouses wear the Kriah on the right side whereas children wear it on the left.
  • Nihum Avelim- “Comfort the Living”. This is the act of consoling the mourners. This is one of the noblest acts a person can perform. Those who nihum avelim are amongst the those who possess chesed (grace, benevolence, kindness).
  • Zikhrono Livrahka– “May Their Memory Be a Blessing” – Also written as z”l. These words are meant to provide comfort. They reassure that the deceased will not be forgotten. The responsibility of carrying on the memory and stories of the one passed loved one now lies on the family and friends. Offered to bring comfort.


2) Ways to Honor the Deceased

  1. One of the most impactful ways to honor a deceased Jew is to ensure they receive a proper Jewish burial.
  2. Ensure that a Minyan is present at the burial services.
  3. Give tzedakah in honor of the deceased. Undoubtedly is a continuation of honor towards them.
  4. Visit the gravesite. Place a stone or pebble on the grave marker. Thus this shows loved ones that someone was there to honor the deceased.
  5. Upkeep of the gravesite. Make sure that the burial plot doesn’t become overrun with weeds.
  6. Name a new baby in honor of the deceased. The baby’s name can start with the first letter of the deceased’s name. The Hebrew name given to the baby may also reflect the deceased.


3) Differences in Ritual

There are three different observation levels in Judaism. There is reform, conservative and orthodox. Depending on where you are in the country or the world, there are different sects of Judaism within those denominations as well. Jewish people are free to observe in a way that serves them. There are a variety of different congregations, each honoring traditions and Halacha (Jewish Law) in their own ways.

Reform Judaism is the most recent denomination to come about. Their practices and observation will show this. They are less observant of Halacha than other sects. Orthodox Judaism observes Halacha strictly. Comparatively, conservative Jews are in between.

4) The Casket

Known as the Aron in Hebrew. There are no fancy caskets or casket shopping in Judaism. A traditional Jewish casket must meet certain criteria per Halacha. Pure pine wood is used to make the box. The casket has no metal on it. Some caskets may even have holes drilled in the bottom. This is to help aid in decomposition and allow the body to return to the earth.  Reformed Jews may not follow Halacha strictly. This doesn’t mean that the cemetery doesn’t have certain requirements for the Aron.

5) Covering Mirrors During Shiva

If you’ve ever paid a Shiva call, there may have been things in the home that wasn’t very familiar to you. There were no flowers. Instead, there were massive amounts of food and sweets being delivered. Lastly, all of the mirrors were covered. Death represents the literal juxtaposition between man and God. Humans are not invincible. Along with humanly traits comes ego. When looking in a mirror, the ego is very present. In order to take all the focus off of self, the mirrors are covered. In this way, the mourner is able to be present at the moment. All the focus is on the deceased.

We Can Help Navigate the Unknown

At Fox, we take the time to aid you in every decision. If you’re looking for the best place to get your Jewish monument on Long Island, look no further. From start to finish, our staff is with you to lend a listening ear and a compassionate suggestion. Whether picking the Hebrew inscription or setting the stone, let Fox monuments help you.

Choosing Consolation Gifts for Your Jewish Loved One in Mourning

hard boiled eggs on table

When a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family suffers a loss, we want to help. This is a natural response, the urge to help in any way we can. Our hearts break for them. So, we want to contribute to making their situation a little easier, giving them strength and support. Of course, most of our brains jump directly to sending them some sort of gift. Usually, neighbors make dishes in astonishing quantities. This way, the grieving family doesn’t have to worry about food throughout their mourning. 

However, if you know a family in mourning and they’re of the Jewish faith, you should take a look at a few things, first. Judaism is an ancient and globally-practiced religion with many specific customs and points of view on any topic you could imagine. But the subject of death is considerably complex. Simply put, certain gifts that we naturally assume are a good idea to send could be inappropriate at a Jewish memorial service. 

That’s why this post is all about the kind of gifts that you should and should not send to a Jewish family in mourning.


No Flowers 

Yes, that’s correct. Since we take the presence of flowers for granted at wakes and funerals, few (if any) of us question if we should send them to Jewish families. Usually, flowers have no place at Jewish funerals, burials, Unveiling Ceremony or grieving process (Stages of Mourning). They won’t place them on or near a grave, and many view flowers arriving at their home almost as an insult to their loved one. In fact, many Jews consider them to be disruptive to the mourning process and therefore: counterproductive. Jewish funeral etiquette condemns them, so it’s best not to send them. 

Since flowers are usually bright, colorful and appear celebratory, they come across as inappropriately festive. Also, since flowers are such temporary  elements, they’re considered in poor taste. Jews place stones on graves for a reason – their resolve and permanent strength reminds mourners of their loved one’s life. 

woman bringing food to neighbor

Send a Care Package Instead 

For Jewish families, care packages make a fantastic alternative to flowers. Usually, the best time to send them is when the family sits Shiva. 

Of course, Shiva baskets may contain just about any food item. However, most of them contain some variation of pastries, fruit, nuts, coffee/tea, candies, fine chocolates and more. 

In addition, Shiva platters will be welcome, as well. Arrangements of meat, fish, condiments, cheese, salads and sides will give the family something to help make the mourning process a little easier. 

If you want to be extra generous, some arrange complete catering services for families sitting Shiva. However, this will likely require some extensive arrangements in advance. 



The term “Tzedakah” means “righteous giving” in Hebrew. Kindness, compassion and generosity are integral to Judaism and define its core values beautifully. At Fox Monuments, we’re proud to serve as an institution that gives grieving Jewish families monuments befitting their loved ones and faith. For decades, our service to Long Island’s Jewish community provides them with the high-quality monuments they love and the gorgeous artistry that celebrates faith and legacy together.