Burial or Cremation

The first thing one has to do is to ascertain whether the deceased will be buried or cremated. This depends on either the wishes of the deceased as previously expressed or the close family members.



In the event of a funeral it is important to contact the Synagogue office as soon as possible. If the office is closed, the answering machine will give instructions for you to follow.

Once contact is made with The Synagogue. The Burial Officer will then take care of all arrangements for the funeral in accordance with the family’s wishes.

It is expected that a funeral should take place as soon as possible except in cases where, for example, a mourner has to travel from overseas. No funeral can take place on a Shabbat or Festival or in the case where a funeral is delayed pending the results of a post mortem examination by a pathologist.

Some families will be accustomed to following Orthodox Jewish practices. For example, mourners may wish to perform the ritual of keriah, the tearing of garments as a sign of grief and mourning. If you wish to perform this ritual, the funeral officiant will guide you. If you do not wish to perform this or other rituals, please do not feel compelled to do so.



In the event of a request for a Cremation please contact the Synagogue in the first instance. The Burial Officer will then make the necessary arrangements.

Services for Funeral or Cremation


It is helpful to the Rabbi to be introduced to the principal mourners prior to the funeral or memorial service and to be given the full Hebrew name of the deceased, if known. The order of service for both a funeral and a memorial service are similar. The services are relatively brief and consist mainly of psalms and memorial prayers appropriate to the occasion. It is customary to conclude the service with the reciting of the kaddish, which is usually recited by the mourners, but may be led by someone else, including the service leader or Rabbi. Progressive Judaism does not exclude women from reciting kaddish. In the event that the mourners feel unable to lead then the Rabbi or another elected person will perform the mitzvah. A key part of the service is a eulogy, a tribute to the deceased which is usually, but not necessarily, delivered by the Rabbi. It may be delivered by a family member or close friend. In this case, it is recommended that the family give the Rabbi sufficient information that the Rabbi may deliver the eulogy, in the event that family members find the service too emotional and feel unable to speak.



Today, many Jews choose not observe all the traditional mourning customs. No-one should feel pressured to do so. However, these customs have proved helpful to many people in coping with grief and loss and mourners should consider following them if it will help them.

It is the custom to mourn initially for seven days, hence the term ‘sitting shivah During the seven days the mourners are not expected to leave their home and family and friends visit them, both to comfort them and to recite the evening service. Prayers usually take place in the home of the mourners. If the residence of the mourners is not conducive to prayers, the Synagogue premises may be used. The purpose of the shivah is to give comfort and support to mourners.

It is important that the mourners follow practices with which they feel most comfortable. One should not feel pressured by other people’s beliefs as to what is right and wrong.

House of Mourning


Immediately on returning to the house of mourning after the funeral one lights a Yahrzeit (memorial) candle and continues to do so for the full seven days.

If possible, a small table should be positioned by the eastern wall. On this table should be placed the lighted yahrzeit (memorial) candle. No blessing is recited.

The Rabbi, or reader, will provide the necessary prayer books and all present, women included, will be invited to join the service.

Reform Jewish practice does not segregate the sexes. At the conclusion of the service the mourners will be invited to recite kaddish. Following this, the mourners should take a (low) seat in a position convenient for those present to pay their respects.

Attendance at Services


Most Reform  will attend services on the Shabbat during the shivah period. At this service, the name of the deceased will be mentioned prior to the recital of the kaddish by the congregation.



It is a long-established Jewish practice to erect a memorial at some time following a burial. The time chosen for the placing of the tombstone varies. Most tombstones are put in place from six months after burial to eleven months after burial. A Rabbi, or an experienced lay reader, will conduct a service of consecration for tombstones.

Many former members of the community have been remembered by the placing of a plaque on the Memorial Board in the Synagogue hall. Please consult the Synagogue office if this is your wish.



Where a member of Sha’arei Shalom has been bereaved, the Synagogue office will notify the member(s) of the Hebrew calendar anniversary of the death (Yahrzeit). Many people follow the practice of attending Shabbat services during the week of the Yahrzeit.

Are you looking for some guidance or have questions about
the Jewish faith?