Tools and Resources
Aninut: The period between the death and burial
Aron: The Hebrew word for casket
Arrangement Conference: A meeting where the funeral director gathers with the family of the deceased to make funeral arrangements
Cantor: A religious singer who may take part in ceremonies such as a funeral
Casket: Container in which the body of the person who died is placed and buried
Chapel: A large room in the funeral home in which the funeral or memorial service is held
Chesed shel emet: An act of kindness done with pure intent, since one cannot be thanked by the recipient; often used in conjunction with the rituals of the chevra kadisha
Chevra Kadisha: A “Holy Society” of men or women who care for people who have died
Committal Service: Service conducted at the place of interment/disposition
Cortege: Vehicle procession from the place of funeral to the place of interment
Cremation: A regulated process using intense heat in a special chamber to burn human remains
Death Certificate: Legal document containing vital statistical information about the deceased. It is signed by a physician, medical examiner, coroner, or other medical health professional certifying the death of an individual. It is used for many legal processes pertaining to death, from arrangement for burial or cremation to the settlement of estate assets. Sinai will procure death certificates for next of kin.
Death Notice: Paid classified notice publicizing a death, giving details of a funeral and shiva arrangements as well as memorial donations
Disposition: Any manner in which the body of the deceased will be treated at death, including burial and cremations
El Malei Rachamin: A memorial prayer read during a funeral
Embalming: A process by which the body of the person who died is chemically preserved and restored to a life-like appearance
Eulogy: A speech praising and remembering a person who has died
Funeral: A service typically held before burial at which prayers are read and family and friends eulogize the deceased
Funeral Arrangements: Completion of funeral service details
Funeral Counselor: Someone who performs the same services as a Funeral Director (see below) but who has not yet received his or her state license
Funeral Director: A licensed professional who works with the surviving family to make all the arrangements for the funeral or memorial service and burial or cremation. He or she ensures these events occur smoothly and according to the family’s wishes.
Funeral Home: A licensed, regulated business that provides for the care, planning, and preparation of a deceased person for their final disposition. Funeral and memorial services are frequently held at a funeral home.
Funeral Service: Ceremony, religious or secular, in which the bereaved say goodbye to the deceased
Grave: The place where the body is buried
Grave Liner: A structure usually made of concrete or wood covering the sides and top of the casket to support the weight of the earth and activity above ground
Grave Marker or Memorial Marker: Sometimes called a "headstone," these are memorials or monuments that are made of stone or bronze that include such information as the name of the individual, date of birth and death, and symbols and words of tribute
“Green Burial”: Also called “environmentally friendly” or “natural” burial, this is the process of burying a body without the use of chemical preservation in a simple biodegradable container in grounds that are pesticide- and herbicide-free
Hakamat Matzevah: Unveiling of the grave marker or memorial marker
Hesped: The Hebrew word meaning eulogy
Interment: The burial
Kaddish: Jewish prayer recited by the mourners in memory of the deceased
K’vod hamet: Respect for the dead
Kever: The Hebrew word meaning grave
Kever Avot: The custom of visiting the graveside of parents or close relatives to honor their memory
Kevurah: The Hebrew word meaning burial
Kriah: The practice of rending or cutting a garment, or symbolically wearing a cut black ribbon over the heart, to indicate that one is in mourning. Those observing keriah are generally adult children, father/mother, brother/sister, or spouse of the person who died.
Levayah: The funeral procession ending at the gravesite
Ma'ariv: The daily evening prayer service in Judaism, one of the three times there is prayer each day
Matzevah: Stone, marker, or headstone
Mausoleum: An above-ground structure or building, often on cemetery grounds, that holds casketed remains
Memorial Service: An alternative to a funeral. A memorial service can be held at any time after a death and can include elements of a traditional funeral. They are often less formal than a traditional funeral.
Met (m) /Meta (f): The body and soul of a person under the care of the chevra kadisha
Mincha: The daily afternoon prayer service in Judaism, one of the three times there is prayer each day
Minyan: The group of ten Jewish men (13 years old or older) who make up the minimum number for communal worship. Among non-Orthodox Jews, women can also be considered part of a minyan.
Nichum aveilim: Consoling the mourners
Obituary: A news item concerning the death of a person, containing a biographical sketch of the deceased and his/her achievements
Pallbearers: Individuals who are asked to carry the casket. Traditionally, this is an honor for those closest to the deceased, but not the immediate mourners.
Pre-arranged Funeral: Arrangements that have been completed prior to a death
Rabbi: A teacher or ordained leader in the Jewish faith. A rabbi often officiates at a funeral and burial.
Register Book: A book for those attending the service to sign
Remains: A euphemism for the body of a person who has died, or the resulting product of cremation
Shacharit: The daily morning prayer service in Judaism, one of the three times there is prayer each day
Shanah: The mourning period lasting 11 months (following sheloshim) observed by mourners when a parent has died
Shiva: The Hebrew word referring to a period of mourning lasting seven days
Sheloshim: The Hebrew word referring to a period of mourning lasting 30 days. Mourning is considered to end at this time, except when someone is mourning the loss of a parent.
Shmirah: Commonly translated as "watching," the name given to the practice of guarding the deceased prior to burial. The person performing this mitzvah is called a shomer.
Shomer: The Hebrew word meaning a “guard,” one who sits with the body of a person who has died from the time of death until the time of the funeral
Tachrichim: A Hebrew word referring to the special white burial garment/shroud, which symbolizes purity and equality. It has no pockets.
Taharah: The ceremony of ritual washing the deceased by the Chevra Kadisha. Women may wash men, but men cannot wash women.
Tallit or Tallis: The Hebrew word meaning prayer shawl. Some people choose to be buried in a tallit. Before it is placed on the body, one of the fringes is cut.
Tsayin Adar: A traditional day of honoring those involved in the rituals of chevra kadisha, to reflect on their responsibilities to honor the dead and to ask for forgiveness if have inadvertently shown any dishonor to them
Tzedakah: The Hebrew word literally meaning “justice” or “righteousness” but commonly used to signify charity
Tziduk Hadin: The prayer recited after the grave is completely filled with earth and a simple marker is placed on the grave with the name of the deceased and date of passing. This prayer declares the mourners’ acceptance of G-d’s decree and is a prayer to G-d to have mercy upon those who are living.
Vault: A lined, sealed burial receptacle—often referred to a the outer burial chamber
Yahrzeit: The anniversary date of death according to the Hebrew calendar. This is a Yiddish term for “time of year.” In the Jewish tradition, a yahrzeit candle is lit on the evening that begins the anniversary of the death of a loved one. It burns for 24 hours and signifies the soul and spirit of the deceased.
Yarmulke: The skullcap worn by the men at synagogue/temple services and funeral services
Yizkor: Memorial service recited four times a year at Yom Kippur and on each of the last days of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot