The Funeral Service
The member of our clergy who will be officiating at the funeral service will meet with the family before the funeral. All of the details for the day of the funeral as well as the days immediately following will be reviewed. Feel free to ask any questions at this time. This is also the appropriate time to share personal information about the person who passed away to be incorporated into the eulogy for the funeral service. If there is anything the family would like mentioned in the eulogy, this is the best time to discuss it.
The family may want to designate two or three speakers to briefly share memories. It is important to coordinate the speakers to avoid duplication. Individuals who have not spoken at the funeral may have an opportunity to share brief memories at the shiva minyanim. Mourners who wish to speak should write down their remarks in advance since emotions may make speaking difficult.
Immediately before the service begins, the clergy member officiating will meet privately with the family members and perform the ritual of kriah for the child, parent, spouse, and sibling of the deceased. The tearing of one’s garment is a public expression of grief at the loss of a loved one. The torn garment is a symbol of a torn heart. The tear is made either in an article of clothing or in a small black ribbon that is pinned to the clothing in close proximity to the heart. As the tear or cut is made, a blessing is recited. All the details of the kriah ritual, including the length of time to wear the torn garment or ribbon, will be explained by our clergy.
The Jewish funeral service is impressive in its simplicity and dignity. Several psalms are read, a biblical passage is recited, the eulogy is delivered, family members may offer their remarks, and a memorial prayer, El Malei Rachamim, is chanted. As the service concludes, the location of the cemetery and the address and schedule of the shiva minyanim will be announced. A charity may also be announced to which contributions may be made in memory of the deceased. Pallbearers, often friends or family members who are not immediate relatives, may accompany the coffin out of the synagogue or funeral home. The coffin is carried to the hearse, which is the lead car for the procession to the cemetery. The funeral home staff will give directions and appropriate instructions for travel to the cemetery.
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(Excerpted from "Saying Goodbye: A Guide to Dealing with the Passing of a Loved One" .)