Reference Guide for rituals and their definitions.
Aninut – the time between death and the funeral
Chevra Kaddisha – “holy society” – members of the Jewish community who prepare the body for burial. This includes fulfilling the mitzvah of sitting with the body from the moment of death until the burial and washing the body.
Hospice – encompasses specialized, compassionate end-of-life care designed to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs and preferences of people at any age, with any type of end-stage disease. Patients are visited wherever they live, whether that’s in a private residence, in an assisted living community or a skilled nursing facility. Care is provided by a team of professionals (including a physician who is a hospice and palliative care specialist, nurses, nursing assistants, a social worker, a grief counselor and a chaplain) and is individualized to meet each patient’s specific requirements. When your goal has shifted from a cure to comfort, hospice care provides you and your family with expert support designed to ease your burden and improve your quality of life so that every day that remains can be fully lived.
Kaddish – traditional Jewish statement whereby the mourners affirm the meaningfulness of life and the hope for the redemption and ultimate healing of suffering for all people
Keriah/Kriah (tearing garments) – an expression of grief. Can use a ribbon instead of tearing clothes in the funeral chapel before the service or at the cemetery before burial; something physical to express grief; symbolizes the tear in the fabric of the family; and marks the time when mourners can let go of the details of the funeral and allow the community to take care of them
Mortuaries (also known as funeral homes) – 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 at a mortuary.
Nichum Avelim (comforting mourners at the end of the service) – those assembled form two lines facing each other and the mourners pass between them
Palliative Care – an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness through the prevention and relief of suffering
Seudat Havraah (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 – week-long period of mourning for immediate family members. In traditional homes, the family retrain 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 allows 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.
Shloshim – The thirty day period of mourning beginning after the funeral. Ritualized mourning ceases after this time except in the death of a parent. Often mourners return to work during this time and would refrain from entertainment.
Shmira – continuous vigil that takes place from death until the funeral; often conducted by the chevra kaddisha
Taharah – the ritual of washing and dressing the body for burial; often performed by the chevra kaddisha
Yahrtzeit – the anniversary of death
Yizkor – a memorial service that happens on Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of Pesach and the second day of Shavuot. It is recited during three joyous festivals to convey that happiness and sadness are both integral parts of living