AVEYLUT… The Path of Mourning & Memory
“Mourning is not grief but rather a way out of grief.”
Rabbi Maurice Lamm frames our understanding of the innate wisdom of Jewish Mourning rite & ritual—to enable a grieving that will one day give way to sacred remembrance, and hopefully, to life-renewal.
Being present to shepherd families “through the valley of the shadow of death,” the clergy of Larchmont Temple are there to hold the mourner’s hand, often—to help hold mourners up, and to bring comfort to their sorrowing hearts.
How might Jewish tradition foster the grieving so crucial to healing?
…As death approaches, a family sitting by the bedside might call on the Rabbi or Cantor to come and share the Viddui—the Prayer of Confession, enabling our loved ones about to leave this earthly existence the peace of mind that their love will yet live on.
…When death confronts, a family should call the Rabbi or Cantor to guide them in making funeral arrangements. Tradition teaches timely burial, so it is fitting honor—K’vod HaMeyt—to conduct the funeral within two days of death. Likewise, leaving the immediate family in wait—unable to move forward with the process of grief and mourning—is untenable.
…In preparing for the Funeral, our Clergy-officiant will meet with the family to share memories and moments in the life of the deceased so as to create a eulogy that is a reflection of the legacy s/he leaves. The Rabbi or Cantor will also review the mourning ritual and coordinate shivah/memorial observances with the family at that time.
…If the family is in need of a burial plot, the Rabbi or Cantor will work with the Temple’s Executive Director to arrange for the acquisition of a burial plot in our Congregational Cemetery.
…The Funeral is a moment to remember with love a life-lived; a time for family to feel the impact of their loss, and so, to grieve. Nothing should stand in the way of that grief for an immediate family member—including the obligation to eulogize a loved one.
…The Funeral Service can be held at graveside, in a funeral home, or at a cemetery chapel.
Though in some special cases Memorial services are held in the Temple Sanctuary, we urge our members’ last association with their congregation not be in death.
…Burial is a primary mitzvah—the most painful yet most purposeful act, for it is the very last thing we can do for a person we so loved. As they gave to us unconditionally throughout their lives, so we share in this one final act of chesed shel emet—loving-kindness of truth, knowing we need never be repaid.
…Shivah is observed after burial, traditionally, for a seven-day period.
Though the great comfort that such moments bring is beyond question, each family determines the duration and nature of its shivah observance, and whether Minyan Services, arranged by the Rabbi/Cantor in conjunction with the Ritual Comm., will be included. The Shivah Minyan enables family and friends to gather in the early evening and, with a brief worship service, to share Kaddish and remembrances.
…Sh’loshim is the thirty-day period [including shivah] wherein life routines begin to return. Each Shabbat during this time the names of our loved ones are read at Services in sacred memory, affording us the opportunity to say Kaddish in our community on their behalf.
…Yahrzeit is the yearly anniversary of the day of death, observed annually by saying Kaddish on the closest coinciding Shabbat. The Temple sends a reminder a few weeks prior with Service information as a reminder. It is customary to kindle a Yahrzeit candle at home on the eve of the Yahrzeit date, recalling the light of love that still lives on…