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Mourners’ Guide for the Brisbane Jewish Community


In loving memory of ‫מרדכי בן דוד‬

Mordechai Ben Dovid

Bert1924Weisz – 2005 Donated by his family.

We hope this book will offer guidance and comfort to assist you in honouring your loved one with respect and understanding.

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Contents Last Minutes / Prayers ............................................................... 4 Prayers for the Final Moments ............................................. 5 When Death Has Occurred ..................................................... 8 Prior to Burial .............................................................................. 10 Mourners ....................................................................................... 10 The Four Stages of Mourning ............................................. 10 The Funeral and Burial .......................................................... 11 Mourners Kaddish .................................................................... 12 The Meaning of Kaddish ....................................................... 13 Shiva ................................................................................................ 14 Returning to the Home .......................................................... 14 Shiva Restrictions ..................................................................... 15 Friday Night in Shule .............................................................. 16 Shloshim ....................................................................................... 16 First Twelve Months ................................................................ 16 Yahrtzeit and Yizkor ................................................................ 17 Consecration ............................................................................... 17 Organ Donation ......................................................................... 18 2


Our Jewish laws, traditions and rituals serve to lead us through the progressive stages of caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, and the period of mourning which may follow. Most of our laws and customs are motivated primarily by the high regard and reverence felt for the critically ill patient and the departed by the help and support offered to the family and mourners through this process. The purpose of Shiva (Seven-day mourning period) is to soften the loneliness of the mourners, making them feel warmth and friendliness in their time of grief. Comforting the mourners is Gemilat Chassadim - loving kindness, to both the deceased and the living. It should be noted that however terminal the illness may be and whatever the diagnosis, one must never despair and lose hope of recovery. Please do not hesitate to call the Rabbi or a member of the Chevra Kadisha if you have any questions as they are available to assist and guide you. May Hashem (G-d) grant you comfort and strength during this difficult period of life. The Brisbane Chevra Kadisha

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During the Last Minutes of Life If it is possible the Rabbi should be called to the bedside to recite prayers and offer comfort to the patient and family, otherwise this may be conducted by any member of the Jewish Community.

Prayers During the last minutes of life, no one in the presence of the individual should leave, except for those whose emotions are uncontrollable, or those who are physically ill. It is a matter of greatest respect to watch over a person as he/she passes from this world to the next. As death draws near, the patient should be encouraged to say Vidui (confession). Care should be taken that this does not distress the patient. It should be explained to the patient and others in attendance, that saying Vidui does not mean that death is imminent.

Vidui

Modeh Ani l’fanecha ado-nai elo-hai velohei avotai, sher’foo-ati b’yadecha umitatee b’yadecha. Y’hee ratzon milfanecha shetirpa-einee r’fuah sh’leima v’im amut t’hei mitatee chapara al kol chata-im va-avonot uf’shaim shechatate v’she-avitee v’shepa-shatee l’fanecha v’tein chelkee b’gan eden v’zakeinee la-olam habba hatzafoon latzadikim. I acknowledge before You, Lord my G-d and the G-d of my fathers, that my recovery and my death are in Your hands. May it be Your will that You heal me with total recovery, but, if I die, may my death be an atonement for all the errors, iniquities, and wilful sins that I have erred, sinned and transgressed before You, and may You grant my share in the Garden of Eden, and grant me the merit to abide in the World to Come which is vouchsafed for the righteous. 4


If the patient is unable to recite, then someone else should recite the following:

Modeh Ani l’fanecha ado-nai elo-hai velohei avotai, sher’foo-ato/sher’fu-ata shel (Hebrew name of the patient) ben/bat (Mother’s Hebrew name) b’yadecha umitato/umitata b’yadecha. Y’hee ratzon milfanecha shetishlach r’fuah sh’leima v’im yamut/tamut t’hei mitato/mitata chapara al kol chata-im va-avonot uf’shaim shechata/shechataah l’fanecha v’tein chelko/chelka b’gan eden ool’olam habba hatzafoon latzadikim. I acknowledge before You, Lord my G-d and the G-d of my fathers, that the recovery of (Hebrew name) of (mothers Hebrew name) and his/her death are in Your hands. May it be Your will that You heal him/her with total recovery, but, if he/her may die, may his/her death be an atonement for all the errors, iniquities, and wilful sins that I have transgressed before You, and may You grant him/her a share in the Garden of Eden, and in the World to Come which is vouchsafed for the righteous.

Prayers for the Final Moments Psalm 121

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Shir lama-a lot esa einay el-heharim mei-ayin yavo ezriy. Ezriy mei-eem ado-nai oseh shamayim va-aretz. Al-yiten lamot raglecha al-yanoom shomrecha. Hineh lo yanum v’lo yishan shomer yisrael. Ado-nai shomerecha ado-nai tzilcha al-yad yeminecha. Yomam hashemesh lo yakekah veyarei-ach balai-lah. Ado-nai yishmar’cha mikol ra yishmor et nafshecha. Ado-nai yishmar tzeit’cha oovo-echa mei-atah v’ad olam. A Song of Ascents. I lift my eyes to the mountains - from where will my help come? My help will come from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot falter; your guardian does not slumber. Indeed, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your protective shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil; He will guard your soul. The Lord will guard your going and your coming from now and for all time.

Psalm 130

Shir hama-alot meema-amakim k’raticha ado-nai. Ado-nai shim-ah b’kolee tih’yena aznecha kashoovot l’kol tachanoonay. Eem avonot tishmar yah ado-nai mee ya-amod. Kee eemcha has’licha l’ma-an tivaray. Keevee-tee ado-nai kivta nafshee v’lidravo hochaltee. Nafshee lado-nai meeshomrim laboker, shomrim laboker. Yachel yisrael el ado-nai kee im ado-nai hachesed v’harbei eemoh f’dut. V’hoo yifdeh et yisrael mikol avonotav. A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I call to You, O Lord. My Lord, hearken to my voice; let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas. G-d, if You were to preserve 6


iniquities, my Lord, Who could survive? But forgiveness is with You, that You may be feared. I hope in the Lord; my soul hopes, and I long for His word. My soul yearns for the Lord more than [night] watchmen [waiting] for the morning, longing for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is kindness; with Him there is abounding deliverance. And He will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. At the very last moments, all present, including the patient (if possible), recite the following passages aloud, and with intense concentration: Recite Once Recite Three Times Recite Seven Times Recite Once

Recite Once

Sh’ma yisrael, ado-nai elo-haynu, adonai echad. Recite Three Times

Baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va-ed. Recite Seven Times

Ado-nai hu ha-elohim. Recite Once

Ado-nai melech, ado-nai malach, ado-nai yimloch l’olam va-ed. Recite Once

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Recite Three Times

Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever. Recite Seven Times

God is the Lord. Recite Once

The Lord is King, the Lord was King, the Lord will be King forever and ever. 7


When Death has Occurred It is important to contact the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society) as soon as death has occurred so they can make the necessary arrangements as it is the tradition for the funeral to take place as soon as possible. Only under special circumstances may the burial be delayed, for example time to allow immediate family who may live afar the opportunity to attend. A short while after death has occurred (approximately half an hour), the following should be done to the deceased. The eyes and the mouth should be closed, arms and legs straightened and a sheet drawn over the face. The position of the body should be so oriented that the feet face the doorway. The body should not be touched except for his or her own honour (for example, straightening the body if it is in an awkward position). Where possible, a candle should be placed near the head of the deceased. The candle is symbolic of the human soul and of G-d’s eternal presence. “The human soul is the lamp of G-d” (Proverbs 20:27). If death occurs on the Sabbath (sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday), a candle should not be lit, nor should the body be moved. Relatives and friends may ask forgiveness from the deceased for any harm they may have caused them during their lifetime. From the moment of death until the funeral, the deceased should never be left alone. No eating, drinking, smoking or derogatory comments (regardless of their veracity) may take place in the room. Discussion should focus solely on the personal qualities, or on funeral arrangements, of the deceased. During the period between death and burial mourners are exempt from Mitzvot such as Prayer, Tefillin, Brachot (blessings) etc. Two overriding principles govern the Jewish approach to death and mourning. The first is Kavod Ha-Met (Honouring the Dead). It is of the utmost importance to treat the body 8


with respect and care from the time of death until the burial is completed. The second is the view that death is a Natural Process: Death is considered a natural part of the life cycle and the body is returned to the earth whence it came. Everyone present at the time of passing should recite:

Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet. Blessed is the true judge. The following Psalm is customarily recited in the presence of the deceased:

Psalm 23

Ado-nai ro-ee, lo echsar. Bin-ot desheh yarbitzaynee, al may m'nuchot y'nahalaynee. Nafshee y'shovayv, yanchaynee v'mag'lay tzedek l'ma-an sh'mo. Gam ki aylaych b'gay tzalmavet lo eera ra kee atah eemadee, shivt'cha oomish-antecha, haymah y'nachamunee. Taaroch l'fanai shulchan, neged tzor'ray, dishantah vashemen roshi, kosi r'vayah. Ach tov vachesed yird'foonee kol y'may chayay, v'shavti b'vayt ado-nai l'orech yamim. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack. He lays me down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul; He directs me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name. Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they will comfort me. You will prepare a table for me before my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup is full. Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the 9


days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for many long years.

Prior to Burial It is traditional to wash the body in preparation for burial. This process is called Taharah (Purification). Taharah is performed by a specially trained group of people under the auspices of the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society). The body, once washed, is dressed in plain linen shrouds called Tachrichim. Males are buried in their tallit. Jewish tradition encourages simplicity in burial and a plain wooden coffin is used. Jews do not have visitation. However, if close family members feel the need to see the deceased one last time prior to the funeral, they may do so privately. It is traditional to have people watch over the body from the time of death until burial, where possible, never permitting the deceased to be alone. Shemirah, the watching over of the body, is done out of respect. Often, a candle is lit at the head of the body, and the shomer (guard) recites psalms. A number of people may serve as shomrim (guards), taking turns sitting with the deceased and reciting psalms.

Mourners The mourners are the father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife. Other relatives are not considered “mourners� in the context of Jewish Law. The mourning period begins with the burial.

Four Stages of Mourning 1) Between death and burial - this time is usually short, with burial being arranged as soon as possible after death. 2) Shiva – the seven-day mourning period following burial; this includes the first three days, during which visitors are sometimes discouraged from visiting the mourner as the loss is too fresh. 10


3) Shloshim – 30 days following burial which includes Shiva. 4) Twelve-month period, which includes Shloshim. Note: The mourning period for all relatives other than the mother and father end with Shloshim. The laws from day one through to the end of the twelfth month are therefore only observed by children for their parents.

The Funeral and Burial Each mourner is required to have a garment or garments such as a shirt or blouse torn. This is referred to as kriah (tearing). Kriah will be assisted by the Rabbi or a member of the Chevra Kadisha. For the loss of a parent, the left side of the garment worn by their grieving child or children is ripped. For all other family members the right side is ripped. A service takes place in the chapel, prior to the burial, where prayers are recited and a eulogy is delivered by family, friends and/or the Rabbi. No eulogy is delivered on Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon) or festive days, eg Chanukah. In such circumstances a eulogy may be delivered at a Shiva Minyan or Shloshim Service. The eulogy is followed by the Memorial Prayer. The pallbearers are then called upon to lead the deceased from the chapel to the grave site. At the grave site it is traditional for the male mourners to participate in the burial by shovelling earth into the grave. The shovel should not be passed directly from person to person, rather it should be placed in the soil. Once the grave is filled Kaddish is recited in memory of the deceased, at the grave site by the son or a representative chosen by the family. At the conclusion of the graveside service, the mourners are seated at the chapel and those attending will offer their condolences. An announcement will be made during the service informing those attending where and when the services will take place for the duration of the Shiva (Seven day mourning period). 11


Before leaving the cemetery, ritual hand washing should take place. A special sink and cup are provided for this purpose. (The hand washing ritual is practised whenever one leaves the cemetery). With the exception of close family members such as a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, Kohanim (people of a priestly descent) are not permitted to be in close contact with the dead or even under the same roof.

A special porch is provided at the chapel to enable Kohanim to be part of the service.

Mourners Kaddish Yitgadal veyitkadash sh’meh rabba. (Cong: Amen) B’alma di v’ra chir-ooteh v’yamlich malchuteh, [Some add: V’yatzmach purkaneh vikarev m’shicheh (Cong: Amen)] B’chayechon uv’yomechon uv’chayay d’chol bet yisrael ba-agala oovizman kariv v’imroo amen. (Cong: Amen. Y’hey sh’mey rabba m’varach l’alam ul’almay almaya. Yitbarach). 12


Y’hey sh’mey rabba m’varach l’alam ul’almay almaya. Yitbarach v’yishtabbach v’yitpa-ar v’yitromam v’yitnasse v’yithaddar v’yit-alleh v’yithallal sh’may d’koodsha, b’rich hoo. (Cong: B’rich hoo) L’ayla min kol birchata v’shirata tooshb’chata v’nechemata da-amiran b’alma v’imroo amen. (Cong: Amen) Y’hay sh’lama rabba min sh’mayya v’chayim [tovim] aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’imru amen. (Cong: Amen). Take three steps back and say: Oseh shalom (HaShalom) bimromav hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael, v’imru amen. (Cong: Amen). Take three steps forward. Exalted and hallowed be His great Name. (Cong: Amen) Throughout the world which He has created according to His Will. [Some add: May He establish His kingship, bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach. (Cong: Amen)] In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, sword, famine and death shall cease from us and from the entire Jewish nation, speedily and soon, and say, Amen. (Cong: Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity, blessed). May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted and extolled, honoured, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He. (Cong: Amen) Beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world; and say, Amen. (Cong: Amen) May there be abundant peace from heaven, and [a good] life for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: Amen) He Who makes peace (the peace) in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: Amen).

The Meaning of Kaddish Having read the translation of the Kaddish Prayer, one should realise that, although Jewish Law requires that the Kaddish be recited during the first eleven months following the death of a loved one by prescribed mourners, and on each anniversary of the death (the 13


‘Yahrtzeit’), there is no reference at all, about death in the prayer! The theme of Kaddish is, rather, the Greatness of G-d, Who conducts the entire universe, and especially His most favoured creature, each individual human being, with careful supervision. In this prayer, we also pray for peace - from the only One Who can guarantee it - peace between nations, peace between individuals, and for every individual’s peace of mind. Paradoxically, this is, in fact, the only true comfort in the case of the loss of a loved one. That is to view the passing of the beloved individual from the perspective that the persons’ soul was gathered in, so to speak, by the One Who had provided it in the first place.

Shiva - 7 Day Mourning Period Shiva begins immediately when the casket is covered with earth. Mourners who are unable to go to the cemetery begin shiva at the approximate time of burial. Shiva ends seven days later after the morning prayer service. The day of burial is counted as the first day even though it is not a full day. If Shiva has begun and there’s an intervening major Jewish holiday (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot) then Shiva is considered as complete and the rest of the Shiva and Shloshim days are nullified. The reason is that it is mandatory to be joyful on a holiday. If the death occurred on the holiday itself, then the burial takes place and the Shiva commences at the conclusion of the holiday. The ideal place to sit Shiva is at the home of the deceased since his/her spirit continues to dwell therein.

Returning to the Home The mourners return home from the funeral for a Seudat Havra’ah (meal of consolation) provided by relatives, friends, and neighbours. It is customary for the meal to include round foods such as hard boiled eggs, bagels and lentils, which symbolise the cyclical nature of life – the mourners return from the cemetery marking their return to life after a direct confrontation with death. No meat, wine or alcohol should be served at this meal. 14


The meal is symbolic of the importance of the continuance of life even in the face of overwhelming grief. A special candle, which burns for seven days, is lit, or twenty-four hour Yahrtzeit lights are kindled daily, signifying the commencement of Shiva, the mourning period. Prayer services are organised daily in the house of mourning to enable the mourners to recite Kaddish for their loved one.

Shiva Restrictions and Prohibitions •

Leaving the house of mourning is limited.

Mirrors are covered so that the mourner should not enhance their appearance during this time or be distracted from the mourning.

Photographs/paintings of the deceased should be covered or put away.

The mourner sits on a low stool or chair no higher than 30cm.

Leather shoes or other footwear are prohibited (in ancient times, leather shoes were a symbol of wealth and comfort). On Shabbat this does not apply.

Greetings are prohibited from both the mourner and those coming to extend their condolences. On Shabbat this does not apply.

Bathing and showering is prohibited, with the exception of Erev (before) Shabbat. Washing may however be effected locally with soap and water.

Haircuts are prohibited.

Shaving is prohibited for men.

Cutting nails is prohibited.

Washing clothes is prohibited with the exception of clothes to be worn on the Sabbath.

Wearing new clothes is prohibited. (After the Shiva period until the end of the twelfth month, if it is necessary to buy new clothes, the mourner should have someone wear it for him first so that it is not considered to be “new” anymore.)

Marital relations are forbidden. 15


Studying Torah (with the exception of laws and customs relating to mourning) is prohibited since it is a source of great delight.

Conducting business is prohibited. There are some exceptions (i.e. severe loss).

Attending parties is prohibited.

On the Sabbath, the mourner is allowed to leave the house of mourning to go to synagogue and does not wear his torn clothes. During the Shabbat the mourner should not display any public signs of mourning. Immediately following the Saturday evening service, the mourner resumes his full state of mourning.

Friday Night in Shule In the synagogue during the first Friday night service (following the burial) at the conclusion of the Lecha Dodi prayer, the mourners are formally welcomed and condolences are offered by the Rabbi and other members of the congregation. It is customary for the mourner to change their normal seats in the synagogue, a little further from the Aron Kodesh (Ark) for the duration of the Shloshim (30 day mourning period).

Shloshim - Thirty Day Mourning Period Following Shiva, through the Shloshim, (30th day), counting from the burial the mourners may return to work and school, but they may not shave or cut their hair and must abstain from most forms of entertainment, such as parties and movies. They should continue to recite Kaddish daily.

First Twelve Months Unlike the counting of Shiva and Shloshim, the counting of the 12 months begins from the day of death. It is important to stress that it is 12 months and not a year because in the event of a leap year, the mourner still only counts 12 months and does not count the entire year. 16


During this period, mourners continue to abstain from most forms of entertainment, such as parties and movies. The Mourner’s Kaddish is recited for eleven months at the end of every prayer service. It helps console the mourner and is recited only in the presence of a Minyan (at least 10 men).

Yahrtzeit – Anniversary Yahrtzeit is the anniversary of the loved one's death. It is customary to light a Yahrzeit candle (25 hour candle) in memory of the deceased on the anniversary of death and to attend a synagogue service to recite Kaddish on that day and evening prior. Note: The Yahrtzeit is commemorated on the Hebrew anniversary date of the passing. The Jewish day commences at nightfall (not midnight), therefore if death occurs after nightfall it is considered the next day for commemoration of the Yahrtzeit. The Rabbi or a member of the Chevra Kadisha can assist you to determine the equivalent English dates of the Yahrtzeit for the following years.

Yizkor – Recalling the Dead The Yizkor prayer is recited at specific times of the year in order to pay respect to the deceased. Some have a custom of reciting it for the first time the first holiday after the death while others wait until the end of the first 12 months. Yizkor is recited on Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, SheminiAtzeret and the Yahrzeits (the date of death) and in the presence of a quorum. It is also customary to light a Yahrzeit light candle before the onset of Yom Kippur in memory of the deceased.

Hakamat-Matzevah - Consecration These days, it is traditional to mark a grave with a stone monument (Matzevah). This is generally erected some time during the first year, prior to the Yahrtzeit (first year 17


anniversary of the death). Many have the custom to do it as early as possible. There is no “right and wrong” about this matter; rather there are several different customs. The ceremony for Hakamat-Matzevah - setting the headstone, is brief and usually involves close family members and friends, who gather at the grave to remember the deceased and honour their memory. The Kaddish prayer is recited on this occasion. (See page 10). When people visit the grave, they often leave a small stone on the grave as a sign that they have visited. Among the explanations for this is that it reflects the eternality of the soul; Just as the stone lasts forever, so too does the soul live forever.

Organ Donation Organ donation to save the life of another person is a Mitzvah (virtuous deed). However there are concerns, particularly in determining the time of death, which needs to be taken into consideration for each individual case. It is therefore important to consult with a Rabbinical expert in this regard at the earliest possible opportunity.

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“I believe with complete faith that there will be a rising of the dead at the time when the Creator so decrees, blessed be His Name, and exalted be His memory for ever and ever.” (Thirteen principles of faith – Maimonides)

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For more comprehensive information, please consult with the Rabbi or a member of the Chevra Kadisha. This publication contains sacred writings. Please do not desecrate or discard. Second Edition November 2010 • Kislev 5771

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