1091-B Rockville Pike | RockvilleMD 20852 | 301-296-6835

The Funeral Service


The Basic Components of the Funeral Service are:

  • Rending of the Garments ("Keriah"). First-degree relatives (i.e., the children, siblings, spouse and parents of the deceased) are obligated to express their pain and sorrow by tearing their clothes over their hearts. This is usually done at the beginning of the funeral service. (Alternatively, some communities have the custom to perform the keriah immediately following the death, or immediately after the burial.)
  • The Eulogy ("Hesped") involves both speaking of the good that the deceased was and did, so we should feel the extent of our loss; and "let the living take to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2)--the lessons we should learn from the deceased and emulate in our lives. These words may be spoken by the officiating rabbi and/or anyone who knew the person.
  • Escorting the Deceased ("Lavaya"). On the most basic level, the Levaya ("accompaniment"--the funeral procession), in which we accompany the body to its resting place, is a show of respect to the deceased. The Hebrew word levaya also indicates "joining" and "bonding." Even as we mourn a soul's departure from manifest connection with our own physical existence, we understand that what binds our souls together--the fundamental Divine essence that all souls share--is far more powerful than the changes wrought by death. We and the deceased remain bonded--living souls all. By participating in the levayah we provide comfort to the soul as it undergoes this very difficult transition from one life to another, as the presence of our souls emphasizes the bonds that transcend this change. Traditionally the casket was carried on the shoulders all the way to the cemetery. The family and community would follow in a procession to accord honor and comfort to the deceased. Nowadays, the long distance to burial places usually precludes this, but it is still important to walk behind the coffin some distance--either before the hearse leaves for the cemetery, or at the cemetery when the coffin is carried from the hearse to the gravesite--thereby fulfilling the important mitzvah of halvayat ha-met "escorting the deceased."
  • The Burial ("Kevurah"). We return the body to the earth that is its source. This is our final act of caring, and it is considered a great mitzvah to physically participate in the burial. Ideally, the whole grave should be filled in, by hand, by fellow Jews. Where this is not possible, at least the casket should be completely covered with earth. At this point, Tzidduk Hadin is recited--a series of verses acknowledging Gd's just ways even as we confront tragedy. We then recite the Kaddish and the El Malei Rachamim memorial prayer.)
  • Comforting the Mourners. We begin the mourning process and the extending of comfort to the mourners immediately after the burial, while still in the cemetery. Those attending the burial form two parallel lines, and the mourners, who by now have removed their leather shoes, pass through this embracing community. Those standing in the lines speak the traditional words of comfort: Hamakom yenacheim etchem betoch shaar avelei tziyon v'yerushalayim--"May the Almighty comfort you among all the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." The mourning then moves to the locale that is chosen for the seven day Shivah mourning period.

© 2019 Shomrei Neshama Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS