Hebrew Glossary for Sitting Shiva
provided by Rabbi Mel Glazer
ANINUT - the period of mourning between death and the funeral service.
EL MALEI RACHAMIM - a memorial prayer chanted at funerals, unveilings, and Yizkor services. It asks that God grant shalom to the soul of the departed.
HEVRA KADISHA - a society of Jews who perform the rites of shmira and tahara.
KIPPOT - traditional skull caps (plural). Kippah is singular.
KRI’AH - a ritual act, performed just before the funeral service, of tearing or cutting a garment or a ribbon provided for the purpose. It symbolizes the inner tear made by death in the life of the mourner.
MA’ARIV - the service recited daily after nightfall. It consists of the Shema (and its blessings), the Amida, Aleynu, and Mourners Kaddish.
MEMORIAL PHRASES - Phrases commonly seen on Jewish monuments are (po nikbar/nikbera) abbreviated as ( ) - “Here
(t’hei nishmato/nishmata tsrura bitsror hachayyim usually abbreviated ( ). “May his (her) soul be bound up in the bond of life.”
(zichrono/zichrona livracha), usually abbreviated ( ) “May his (her) memory be a blessing.” The name of the deceased is often added to this phrase.
(alav/aleha hashalom) - “Peace be upon him/her”
(Hamakom y’nachem etchem b’toch sh’ar avelei tzyon vi’y’rushalayim)
“May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” This phrase is provided by tradition for those wishing to comfort the bereaved.
MINYAN - a group of ten adult Jews gathered for the purpose of prayer. The presence of a minyan is required by Jewish law for the recital of the Mourner’s Kaddish and other prayers which are public expressions of praise of God. A minyan may consist of both men and women in some congregations.
MITZVAH - a commandment prescribed by Jewish law. Mitzvot is the plural.
ONEN - a bereaved person during the period between death and the interment.
SHIVA - the seven days following interment, counting the day of the burial as day one.
SHLOSHIM - the thirty days following interment, counting the day of the burial as day one.
SHMIRA - the mitzvah of watching the body from the time of death until the interment. The person who watches is known as the shomer.
TACHRICHIM - traditional Jewish burial garments of white muslin, cotton, or linen sewn without bindings, seams, knots, or pockets. The men’s set does not include the tallit, it must be separately supplied.
TAHARA - the traditional washing of the body of the deceased, performed by a Hevra Kadisha, a Jewish Burial Society.
TALLIT - a four cornered shawl, with fringes at each corner, worn by Jews when saying the Morning Prayer. The fringes are called tzitzit.
TZEDAKAH - literally means “righteousness.” This term commonly refers to the giving of money to charitable organizations.
VIDDUI - a formula of final confession recited by traditional Jews when their death is imminent.
YAHRZEIT - the anniversary of a person’s death reckoned by the Hebrew calendar.
YIZKOR - a memorial service held on Yom Kippur, on the eighth day of Sukkot (Shmini Atseret), on the last day of Passover, and on the second day of Shavuot. Mourners Kaddish is recited at these times.