When a Jewish person dies, there are clear directions as to how things should proceed with regard to the body, the burial, the funeral and mourning. The concept of honoring the dead is reflected in all Jewish burial customs. Burial takes place as soon as possible, sometimes within 24 hours after death, or as soon thereafter as relatives can gather for the service. There is a mitzvah to join a burial society (chevra kadisha), which ritually prepares the body for burial, and to sit with the body (as a “shomer,” or guard, between the time of death and the burial). While always tragic, the Jewish rituals around death, funerals and mourning recognize that grieving and recovery after the death of a loved one is a long and gradual process.

Shiva – seven most intense days of mourning

Shloshim – first 30 days of mourning

Aveilut – year of mourning.

While one is an avel (mourner) for a full year for immediate relatives, one only says kaddish for the first 11 months of the year.

Unveiling – removing a veil to reveal the tombstone a relatively short ceremony marking the dedication of the gravestone.

Yahrzeit – The anniversary of the day of death, often observed by saying kaddish, giving charity (tzedakah) in memory of the deceased, and visiting the grave.

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