When somebody dies
Please notify your synagogue office if this is during office hours. Contact details for the administrator at each synagogue can be found here. Outside office hours each synagogue’s answering machine has instructions and guidance on what to do, as follows:
If the deceased is a member of Harrow & Wembley Progressive Synagogue: notify Ronnie King of Michael King Funeral Directors, Liberal Judaism’s undertaker. Ronnie can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Bank and Jewish holidays, on 0208 368 7453 or 07595 956 936.
if the deceased is a member of Hatch End Masorti Synagogue or Mosaic Reform Synagogue: please notify the Joint Jewish Burial Society (JJBS) on 020 8989 5252.
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Following the funeral, the erection of a tombstone over a grave is not mandatory; whilst most authorities agree that a stone may be erected at any time, one usually waits about 12 months. The reason usually given for waiting a full year is since the deceased is well remembered for the first year after death, there is no need to erect a memorial as an additional reminder. A more practical reason for waiting a year before erecting a stone is to give the earth time to settle, preventing a heavy stone from sinking into the ground. Traditionally stone setting takes place 11 months after the burial, and is accompanied by a memorial service at the graveside.
The date of the stone setting should be arranged in consultation with the officiating rabbi, the synagogue office and the undertaker or burial society. To discuss this further, please contact your rabbi or the synagogue office.
It is regarded as an act of honouring the dead to commemorate the yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) each year. It is usual to do this on the Hebrew date, to light a memorial candle at home, to recite the kaddish (mourner’s prayer) at services, and to refrain from public celebrations on that day.
Arrangements can be made for members to be notified of a forthcoming yahrzeit. To discuss this, contact your synagogue office. Contact details can be found here.
You may wish to attend a Shabbat evening or morning service to recite kaddish. You may also be offered the opportunity of performing a mitzvah during the service. The names of those being remembered during the week by congregants may also be read out before the kaddish, which you may feel is an additional way of keeping alive the name of your loved one.
The Bereavement Support Group has been established to provide support and, if required, counselling following the death of a close family member. It will normally make contact four to six weeks after the bereavement. This confidential service is offered to non-members (regardless of religion) as well as to members of Mosaic. Although it works within Mosaic, we also accept referrals from GPs, Northwick Park Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospice.
The Bereavement Support Group is a team of trained volunteer bereavement visitors under professional supervision. Each visitor undergoes initial training, and then further training at least twice a year. contact us for further information about Bereavement Support.
Chevra Kadisha / Tahara
It was Benjamin Franklin who said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”. He was right, of course, except that one can practise tax avoidance but, alas, we cannot avoid death.
We, have had many kind people to help the community with bereavement visiting, the Friendship Club, Telenet, Befrienders and, no doubt, many other things that go unspoken and unknown. There is a hard core of people who would like to take this caring further. Chevra Kadisha means “Holy Society” which may sound somewhat mysterious. Such societies see to it that the bodies of Jews in their community are prepared for burial according to Halachic law. Historically this includes protection from desecration before burial as well as the ritual cleansing and dressing for burial known as Tahara.
Karen Pollak writes: Tahara is not as daunting as one may think. I realised that when I first viewed the procedure I was scared, but scared of the unknown, not the practice itself. I now realise there is nothing to be scared of. It is a quiet, dignified procedure where, through a linen sheet, the deceased is gently washed and then dressed in a white cotton shroud, which is composed of several different elements and then tied in particular symbolic knots. The garment supposedly recalls that worn by the Kohen Gadol – The High Priest. Interestingly, the Sephardim and Ashkenazim tie their knots differently. We Jews seem to have to disagree with one another right until the very end!!! Prayers are said at the beginning and end of the procedure, and the deceased is then put into the coffin by the undertakers.
We are looking for people to make up our own Chevra Kadisha. One has to be flexible as one is “on call” so to speak. We are mostly called upon in the mornings as the deceased is prepared as close to the funeral as possible, and it does not take much time – approximately one hour. We already have some members who have volunteered their help but, of course, we need more and, importantly, MNS needs more men to help us carry out Tahara – The Ultimate Mitzvah – as women do not attend men and men do not attend women.
Please give it some thought. It is the “ultimate mitzvah” and it would be such a fitting way to carry on the tradition of our caring community. Please contact us for further information.