Burial Society -
there to help
020 8950 7767
The community will be there for its members in good and bad times. All members of Northwood United Synagogue are automatically members of the US Burial Society which provides a complete and caring service at this most difficult time. If death is anticipated within a few days then you may wish to contact the Rabbi to talk about what to do.
1. Notify the United Synagogue Burial Office on 020 8950 7767 IMMEDIATELY and leave a contact phone number. In addition please call the shul office and Rabbi Zerbib. If the Burial Office are closed and you would like to speak to someone please call 07957 119 119 (not available on Shabbat or Yom Tov).
2. Obtain a death certificate from the doctor or hospital, stating the cause of death.
3. Take the death certificate to the Registrar for Births and Deaths. It must be the Registrar in the vicinity where the death occurred.
4. Phone the Burial Office once you have been issued with the relevant documentation. The burial office will advise what to do next.
5. Once funeral arrangements have been made the burial office will contact the Synagogue Administrator who will assist with shiva chairs and prayer books and liaise with the Rabbi about the funeral and shiva. If you wish, you may contact your own Minister.
6. Speak personally with the Rabbi about the funeral service and shiva arrangements.
7. Notify family and friends of the arrangements.
Kaddish is the most important prayer said by mourners in memory of the departed.
Preparing the Shiva house prior to the funeral
A candle should burn throughout the shiva period which lasts for seven days from the day of funeral. It is the custom to cover the mirrors in the home of the mourner, in the rooms that he/she will use (there is no need to cover television screens), The coverings can be removed for Shabbat.
Mourners are the parents, brothers/sisters, spouse or children of the deceased. These are the only people for whom the laws of mourning apply. If other relatives, such as stepchildren or adopted children wish to be considered as mourners, they must consult the Rabbi.
All mourners should have non-leather footwear ready to put on after the funeral, which should be worn throughout the shiva. All mourners should sit on low chairs, which will be supplied by the synagogue.
Preparing for the funeral
All mourners are expected to tear an item of clothing, which symbolizes the permanent rent that has taken place in their lives. This is called 'Kriah'. These items are then worn throughout the shiva period, except for Shabbat. It is sensible not to wear good or new clothes for this purpose. Garments that are torn include: a suit jacket, cardigan or sweater and shirts or blouses but not a tie or scarf. It is not our custom to require mourners to wear black at funerals or during the shiva. Likewise flowers are not sent to the funeral. People should be dressed modestly (as they would when visiting a synagogue). Men and married women need to have suitable head covering.
On returning from the funeral
It is the practice for neighbours or friends to prepare the first meal that the mourners eat. This is called the Meal of Condolence. It usually consists of bagels (or soft round rolls) and hard boiled eggs, accompanied by a drink. The family should not be involved in preparing food and drink for those returning to the shiva house after the funeral. Friends should organise refreshments for those who require it.
This is the seven day period of mourning, which begins on the day of the funeral (inclusive) and continues until the morning of the seventh day, eg. if the funeral were to take place on Monday daytime, the shiva would terminate Sunday morning. The Shiva house is traditionally open to visitors to pay condolences during the day and until after evening services. However, mourners do need to be able to rest and eat, and it is quite acceptable to ask people not to call at certain times.
Someone who is not one of the actual mourners should prepare meals, open the door to visitors (some people leave it slightly open all the time), and answer the telephone. It is usual that some visitors will bring items of food, or will offer to prepare meals.It is not the practice to offer refreshments to visitors unless they come from a long distance. A shiva house should not be treated as a social occasion and traditionally visitors wait for the mourner to initiate conversation. Visitors may wish the mourners 'Long Life' or may pray that they be comforted among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem -a short Hebrew prayer, which can be found on the card sent by your local synagogue.
It is advisable to telephone Cemetery Maintenance 020 8950 7767 immediately after the shiva to arrange this. Please also contact the Rabbi at the outset to ensure, as far as possible, that he will be available. The information is this section has drawn heavily from a United Synagogue booklet “A brief Guide for Bereavement” with their permission.
The First Year After
If the the deceased was a parent, the male mourners are required to say Kaddish for eleven months, and will often attend Synagogue for this period even if they did not do so before. This period is 30 days for a departed child, sibling or spouse.
The year anniversary of the death is known as the Yahrzheit. Please inform the Synagogue office if you have an approaching Yahrzheit in order to be called up on the Shabbat before the Yahrzheit occurs. Special prayers will be said after the call up to the Torah, called an Azkarah ('remembrance')