Options to Consider and Immediate Decisions to Make

You and your family will be supported by Kol Ami throughout this difficult time. Please read through this section carefully to contemplate these end of life considerations.


Kol Ami Services and Supports Included with Membership

The first person you will likely speak to is Jess Lorden, Kol Ami’s Executive Director. Jess will immediately contact the clergy, lay leaders, and Chesed Committee to assist you during this challenging period.

Email to Congregation: With your input and direction, Kol Ami will send out an email to the congregation about the recent death, including funeral, shiva, and donation information.

Clergy: Kol Ami provides clergy and a space for the funeral service of a congregant, and for parents and children of congregants. There is no separate charge for this service, but at your discretion, you are encouraged to make a donation to Kol Ami Cares.

Shiva: A member of the clergy or Kol Ami lay leader will lead the shiva service. Kol Ami will provide links and an online guide for a virtual shiva. It is suggested that at least one in-person shiva and one virtual shiva be held.

Chesed Committee: The Chesed Committee will contact you or your family representative to provide support in accordance with your particular needs. A member of the committee will deliver a “shiva kit” to your home which includes a pitcher and basin, prayer books, sheloshim reflections, and yarmulkes. In addition, a chesed volunteer can help with covering mirrors, receiving and setting up food while the family attends the funeral, and many other forms of assistance.

Meal of Consolation: Kol Ami provides, at no charge, a meal of consolation for your immediate family at a time convenient for you.

Prayer Book Label: Kol Ami will affix a personalized label in memory of the deceased in the Kol Ami prayer book, at no charge.

Yahrzeit Memorial Book: At your request, Kol Ami will include the name and date of death of the deceased in the annual Yahrzeit memorial book. There is no charge for this service and a donation to Kol Ami or to the Rabbis’ discretionary fund is appreciated

Kaddish: Kol Ami recites the Mourner’s Kaddish as a congregation on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. The name of the deceased is announced on the four Fridays and Saturdays (shloshim) following the burial. Temple Israel in White Plains invites mourners to its morning and evening daily minyon. Please contact Temple Israel for details.

Yahrzeit: You are invited and encouraged to share the name and yahrzeit of those who have passed. Kol Ami will announce their name at temple services, and you will receive an annual reminder of the secular date or date on the Hebrew calendar, however you choose.

Virtual Cemetary: Kol Ami maintains a database of where many Kol Ami congregants are interred.

Available for Purchase at Kol Ami

  • Additional Prayer Book Label: $18
  • Tree of Life Leaf: $180
  • Yahrzeit Glass-Engraved Plaques: $750


Funeral Home Services and Supports

The funeral home will guide you in a variety of ways. Typically, their services include:

  • Transportation of the deceased to the funeral home
  • Obtaining death certificates
  • Placing an obituary in newspapers
  • Locating the pre-purchased burial plot (unless purchased through Kol Ami) and carrying out any special funeral wishes of the deceased
  • Providing low mourners chairs, memorial candles, etc. for the shiva home

In addition, the funeral home can help with purchasing a grave and coffin.

The funeral director may request the following information from you:

English and Hebrew names of deceased
Social Security Number of deceased
Date and place of birth and death
Names and relationships of close relatives

Be sure to mention if the deceased is a veteran if you want a full Military Honors Ceremony. This includes the folding and presentation of the American flag to the next of kin accompanied by the playing of “Taps”.


Traditional and Current Jewish Practices

There are various Jewish rituals for the care of the deceased. All Jewish funeral homes are familiar with these practices and can help with the arrangements when your loved one dies.

Shomer: A shomer, or guard, can be called upon to perform the Jewish ritual of watching over the body from the time of death until burial. The shomer arrives at the hospital or home, travels with the deceased to the funeral home, and then to the cemetery, reciting passages from the Book of Psalms.

Chevra Kadisha: A Jewish burial society provides volunteers to prepare the deceased for burial through prayer, ritual cleansing, and by dressing the body in a white, linen shroud. People are often buried with their tallit.

Casket: For you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. This value is reflected in the preference within Jewish law for a simple casket constructed of wood.

K’riah: Prior to the funeral service, close relatives gather for the tearing of a garment (k’riah), or symbolic black ribbon, to demonstrate an outward sign of grief and acceptance. While mourners wear the torn garment or ribbon while sitting shiva, it is merely symbolic and should be discarded after shiva.

Funeral: According to Jewish funeral traditions honouring the dead, k’vod hamet, the deceased should be buried as soon as possible. However, Jewish burials may be delayed for legal or practical reasons, to avoid religious holidays including Shabbat, or to wait for the arrival of family.

Jewish funerals may occur in a synagogue, a funeral home, or at graveside. Any of these are an appropriate choice for the family of the deceased. There is considerable flexibility as to the content of the funeral service.

Burial: Jews may be buried at Jewish or non-sectarian cemeteries. Jewish cemeteries now accommodate requests for cremation, with options for either in-ground or above ground entombment.

In a final act that will never be repaid, family and friends participate in shoveling dirt atop the lowered casket. This last physical act of kindness is difficult but we do it, using the back of the shovel, to show our reluctance to saying goodbye.

Kaddish: Starting at the burial, mourners recite the Kaddish prayer in honor of their departed loved ones. Kaddish is recited for thirty days, except in the case of the death of a parent, in which case it continues for eleven months.

Shiva: Shiva begins immediately following the funeral and traditionally lasts for seven days, ending after the morning service on the seventh day. Shiva is not observed on the Sabbath or on holidays.

While some mourners choose to observe shiva for the full seven days, it has become more common for families to sit shiva for one to three days, depending on many factors, including the family’s level of observance or the deceased’s instructions or wishes.

What the Jewish Reform Movement Says About:
Embalming, Cremation, Suicide, Tattoos, Organ Donation, and more

Paying for a Funeral
The cost of a funeral varies greatly. Before the need arises, you may want to review these approximate funeral costs.

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