End-of-Life and Bereavement Resource Guide

This guide offers Jewish resources and rituals regarding end-of-life and bereavement.

  • Information for immediate family members including local logistical information
  • General information on Jewish Funerals and Shiva – What to Expect
  • Articles and books on every aspect of Jewish death and dying

For concise definitions of terms associated with bereavement, please visit our alphabetical glossary of terms.
All words listed in blue are links to websites for more information.

This guide contains both traditional rituals and customs as well as those that take a more progressive approach, as people mourn differently. “The profound psychological insights implicit in the highly structured Jewish mourning observances speak eloquently of Judaism’s concern for the psychological integrity of the human personality.” Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Aninut – the time between death and the funeral
Aninut – the time between death and the funeral
What is a Chevra Kadisha?
A group of men and women who perform the mitzvot of tahara, the washing and purification of the body, referred to as the met, in preparation for burial and shemira, a continuous vigil of the met that takes place from death until interment. The shomer (guard) reads psalms or prayers, while a candle burns continuously at the head of the coffin. Both tahara and shemira are done in a very respectful and loving way according to Jewish law.
They are meant to help survivors cope with their loss by honoring their loved one with dignity and to help guide the deceased on this last journey. (from Boulder Chevra Kadisha website)
Boulder Chevra Kadisha – 303-842-5365, BoulderChevra@boulderchevrakadisha.org
As soon as you learn that your loved one has died, or if you anticipate a death in your family and would like to make prior arrangements, call your rabbi or the rabbi of a local synagogue. This rabbi will notify the Boulder Chevra Kadisha. You do not need to be a member of a congregation to use the services of the Chevra Kadisha. The Chevra’s services begin as soon as possible after death and end with burial. You can also contact them directly.
For Mourners (Immediate Family Members)
Pending Death, What to do/Whom to Call, The Role of the Rabbi or Synagogue
Preparing for a Jewish Funeral: A Checklist (from time of death thru shiva – from the Reform Movement)
For Extended Family and Friends
What to Expect at a Jewish Funeral (from the Reform Movement)
What to Do When Attending a Jewish Funeral (from My Jewish Learning)
Other Resources
Jewish Burial and Mourning Practices for Relatives Who Are Not Jewish (from interfaithfamily.com)
A Synagogue Ritual for Miscarriage (from Kveller)
Five Ways to Reach Out to a Friend Affected by Suicide
Humanistic View of Death and Dying
A Practical Guide to Issues Surrounding Death and Mourning – A very detailed guide from a contemporary online synagogue
Meal of Consolation – post-funeral meal
Meal of Consolation – provided by friends and neighbors after the funeral tradition says to include hard-boiled eggs which symbolize return to life after a direct confrontation with death
Shiva, meaning seven in Hebrew, is the week-long mourning period for immediate family members. In traditional homes, the family refrain from working, participating in joyful activities or doing chores. Often there is a daily minyan or service at the home of the mourners. Shiva allows the family time to grieve without distractions and allow others to care for them in this most immediate time of mourning. At the end of the seven days, mourners may choose to take a post-shiva walk to mark the transition.
For Mourners (Immediate Family)
Traditional Jewish Mourning Practices (from before death to Yahrzeit)
The ABCs of Death and Mourning (traditional/Orthodox practices from Aish.com)
How Shiva is Observed (from shiva.com)
For Extended Family and Friends
How to Make a Shiva Call (from My Jewish Learning)
How to Pay a Shiva Call (from interfaithfamily.com)
A Practical Guide to Paying a Shiva Call (from Aish.com)
What to Expect at a Shiva (Condolence Call) (from the Reform Movement)
What to Expect at a Shiva (with guidance for families with children)
How to Pay a Shiva Call: A Guide for Non-Jews
After the Shiva Period
Traditional Jewish Mourning Practices – a brief explanation of all periods of mourning including shiva and the periods after
Shloshim – the 30-day mourning period including the seven days of shiva. In Jewish tradition, there are several observances that are associated with this period. It is also considered the full period of morning for all relatives other than ones mother and father.
Kaddish – a prayer that does not deal directly with death but speaks of the power and majesty of God said to help along the soul of the deceased in its journey
Hebrew, Transliteration and English Kaddish (from Reform Judaism)
Kaddish Guide (from Chabad.org that includes guidelines, meaning, and stories)
Sheloshim, the First 30 Days of Mourning (from My Jewish Learning)
Shloshim: The First 30 Days of Mourning – a Conservative Perspective
Ritualwell has a ceremony for Leaving Shloshim that includes a candle lighting and a memorial tree planting.
The First Year
Jewish Mourning- the first Year (a traditional take on the first year of mourning)
A Year of Mourning for Parents (from My Jewish Learning)
The Unveiling (from Shiva.com the resource for Jewish mourning)
Yahrzeit (from Shiva.com, the resource for Jewish mourning)
Yahrzeit: Memorial Anniversary (a traditional approach by Maurice Lamm for Chabad.org)
Online Yahrtzeit Reminder (from World ORT)
Yizkor – The Memorial Prayer (from Chabad.org)
Jewish Prayers: Yizkor (from the Jewish Virtual Library)
Yizkor, the Memorial Service (from My Jewish Learning)

End-of-Life care refers to resources for people who are in the final hours or days of their lives or for people with advanced terminal illness.

    • Jewish End-of-Life Coalition – a group of people and resources to provide help and support for caregivers. For more information, please contact
    • Palliative Care – focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family
    • Hospice – provides care, comfort and support for persons with life-limiting conditions as well as their loved ones; involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.
    • Advance Directives – a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor. Colorado Advance Directives Consortium
    • Doulas – similar to doulas for the birth process these doulas help family members navigate the death an funeral of a loved one

Planning Ahead for Death (General Concerns, Choosing a Cemetery, Funeral Home Considerations)
The Final Moments An Orthodox Perspective
Colorado Public Radio broadcast of Reb Zalman “Don’t Freak Out About Dying”
End of Life Issues from a Jewish Perspective
The Conversation Project Starter Kit – It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected.

Mortuaries (also known as funeral homes) are licensed, regulated businesses that provide for the care, planning and preparation of a deceased person for their final disposition. Funeral and memorial services can be held a the cemetery or mortuary. (jewish-funeral-home.com)
Haver has a new Local Guide to Jewish Burial with information on up-to-date pricing.
Information on Jewish Cemeteries from Haver

Local Minyan Days/Times

Chabad at CU Tuesday 8 am
Bonai Shalom Thursday 7 am Friday 6 pm Saturday 9:30 am
Har HaShem First Friday of the month 7 pm; all other Fridays 6 pm
Kehillat Orot Yisrael Saturday 9:30 am
Jewish Organizations (Click on an organization for contact information for any question or help regarding end-of-life, death, and mourning)

Adventure Rabbi: Synagogue Without Walls
Contact Name: Rabbi Jamie Korngold
Contact Number: 303-443-2642
Contact Email: info@adventurerabbi.org
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Adventure Rabbi
Beth Ami – Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
Contact Name: Sheila Malcolm, Professional Leader
Contact Number: 303-588-0236
Contact Email: sheila@bethami.com
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Beth Ami
Boulder Orthodox Synagogue
Contact Name: Rabbi Ami Silver
Contact Email: amidsilver@gmail.com
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Boulder Orthodox Synagogue.
Conregation Bonai Shalom – Conservative
Contact Name: Rabbi Marc Soloway
Contact Number: 303-442-6605
Contact Email: rabbi@bonaishalom.org
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Congregation Bonai Shalom
Conregation Har HaShem – Reform
Contact Name: Gary Fifer, Executive Director, Congregation Har HaShem
Contact Number: 303-499-7077
Contact Email: g.fifer@harhashem.org
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Congregation Har HaShem
Conregation Nevei Kodesh – Renewal
Congregation Nevei Kodesh
Patrice Spitz, Rabbinic Pastor
Phone:(631) 988-4472
Email: patricespitz@yahoo.com
Haver – Rabbinic Council Boulder Colorado
Please fill out the Contact Us page on the Haver website and you will be directed to a rabbi on the council.
Judaism Your Way – Wherever you are on your Jewish journey, we’ll meet you there
Contact Name: Rabbi Brian Field
Contact Number: 303-320-6185
Contact Email: brian@judaismyourway.org
Happy to work with individuals who are not members of Judaism Your Way

Mortuaries in Boulder County
Crist Mortuary – 3395 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO 80301 | 303-442-4411 – fill out the online contact form and someone will respond within 15 minutes day or night.
Greenwood & Myers Mortuary, 2969 Baseline Road, Boulder CO
Howe Mortuary and Cremation Services – 439 Coffman St, Longmont, Colorado 80501, 303-776-2434
Darrell Howe Mortuary – 1701 W S Boulder Road, Lafayette, CO 80026 303-665-5518

Helpful Resources

Information on Cemeteries in Boulder from Haver – Boulder’s Rabbinic Council
The Federal Trade Commission has Funeral Rules that state your rights with regard to funeral homes.
Who is legally able to make decisions? Legal Spouse/Partner; Adult Child/Children; Parent; Adult Sibling; Ex-Spouse
Pallbearers – according to Jewish tradition, anyone can be a pallbearer regardless of gender or religious background

Bereavement Support
Everyone experiences loss in their own way. Here are local resources that may be of help.

Local Minyan Days/Times

Chabad at CU Tuesday 8 am
Bonai Shalom Thursday 7 am Friday 6 pm Saturday 9:30 am
Har HaShem First Friday of the month 7 pm; all other Fridays 6 pm
Kehillat Orot Yisrael Saturday 9:30 am
Grief Support Groups – For a complete list of groups and individual counselors, please contact Cathy Summer at Jewish Family Service 303-415-1025

“Good Grief: A Grief Support Group” for affiliated and non-affiliated members of the Jewish community begins April 12 and meets weekly for eight weeks. It is recommended that at least six months have passed since the loss prior to participating in this group. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information and/or to register, please contact Cathy Summer at Boulder JFS, 303.415.1025 or csummer@jewishfamilyservice.org.
Grief Support Network of Boulder – Grief Support Network is a network of wellness providers who share the belief that all people have the power to transform themselves through their grief when they are given enough support, guidance and time to do so. Our goal is provide individuals and families with services and programs that will support them to heal and experience more gratitude in their lives.
Individual Counseling – Please contact Cathy Summer at Jewish Family Service 303-415-1025
Pregnancy and Baby Loss Therapeutic Group through Grief Support Network – 6 week group provides a space to share about your loss while providing support and education for our grief journey. May 6-June 10 6:00-8:00 pm. For more information and to register.
Resources on Loss and Mourning
Coping and Grief from shiva.com
Modern Loss – from their website “a place to share the unspeakably taboo, unbelievably hilarious, and unexpectedly beautiful terrain of navigating your life after a death. Beginners welcome.” Specifically geared towards people in their 20s-40s coping with loss.

  • To Begin Again: The Journey Towards Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times by Naomi Levy
  • Why Me? Why Anyone? by Jaffe, Hirshel, Rudin, James, Rudin, Marcia
  • Why Me? Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change by Kraus, Pesach and Goldfischer, Morrie
  • When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner

  • Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families – produced by InterfaithFamily.com this guide is available online, as a pdf or as a word document. It is very comprehensive.
  • The Funeral is Just the Beginning: Everything You Need to Do When a Loved One Dies by Amy Levine – this book, written by a local author who after finding herself unprepared for the sudden death of her sister wrote this guide to help others. The comprehensive guide is straightforward and includes everything from transporting a body and tips on last minute travel to how to write an obituary and planning a funeral. She also includes a lengthy section on grief support, assets and filing taxes. To order an online copy www.lastchapterconcierge.com
  • The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Maurice Lamm – from the moment of death through the funeral service, the burial and the various periods of mourning from a traditional standpoint.
  • Saying Kaddish: How to Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead, and Mourn as a Jew by Anita Diamant
  • A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort by Ron Wolfson
  • Every Person’s Guide to Death and Dying in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs
  • The Orphaned Adult: Confronting the Death of a Parent by Rabbi Marc Angel
  • The Begin Again: The Journey Towards Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times by Naomi Levy
  • Jewish Views of the Afterlife Reb Simcha Raphael

Children’s Books (from PJ Library Recommendations)

  • Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa – by Jane Breskin Zalben
  • Where is Grandpa Dennis by Michelle Abraham
  • Wishes for One More Day by Melanie Joy Pastor
  • When a Grandparent Dies: A Kid’s Own Remembering Workbook for Dealing with Shiva and the Year Beyond – by Nechama Liss-Levinson, Ph.D.
  • A Candle for Gandpa: A guide to the Jewish Funeral for Children and Parents by David Techner and Judith Hirt-Manheimer

Our resources are primarily from Kavod v’Nichum (meaning to honor and comfort, in Hebrew) a non-denominational national non-profit organization. Their mission is to “restore to Jewish death and bereavement practice the traditions and values of honoring the dead and comforting the bereaved.”

Death Cafe

The objective of a Death Café is to ‘increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their ‘finite’ lives.” People are free to come and go, to talk or not talk as they feel in that moment. Be Curious! Have fun! For more information, contact Evie Cohen at 303-507-7001 or just show up!