The erecting of a stone or monument gives honor to the body that housed the soul. The Jewish teaching that all are equal in death may serve as a guide to choosing a grave marker which is usually made of a permanent material, such as stone. The Hebrew word for stone is tzur, may also be used to refer to God. This reminds us that God is our rock, our strength, and support. The Jewish religion teaches that that God is always there to comfort us, especially at our darkest times.
A stone is also symbolic of eternity. Our loved ones have everlasting qualities that live on in us... they will never be forgotten.
The headstone should include the name of the deceased and may also note the dates of birth and death, a brief description of the deceased, or a phrase of prayer.
In the United States it has become customary to have a ceremony to “unveil” and dedicate the memorial marker. While many families wait until almost the full year has passed, others have a ceremony after three or six months. Most schedule the unveiling at a time when family members are available and follow it with a gathering.
Purpose of the Unveiling Ceremony
Some time has gone by and the shock of your loss has passed. The pain is still very real, but you are learning to learn to live without the presence your loved one. Although it is extemely difficult, you have begun to find your way back into life again.
At the unveiling ceremony we recall what is eternal-our loved one’s spirit. We celebrate how he/she was unique , may laugh at their humor, appreciate their wisdom, recall cherished memories, feel the warmth of their love and cry over our loss.
The Unveiling Ceremony
Most often a Rabbi or Cantor will conduct the service, however you may opt to unveil the stone with only family and friends in attendance.
The unveiling ceremony consists of:
Gather friends & family at the gravesite
Recite meaningful Psalms/Poems
Family and close friends may want to reflect on their departed
loved one with a brief eulogy.
• Share a moment that best revealed their character
• Share what makes them unforgettable
• Share what brought your loved one joy
• Share what you learned from your loved one
Remove the cloth that covers the headstone
Read the inscription
Recite The El Malei Rahamim prayer
Recite The Mourner's Kaddish prayer
Place stones on the gravesite (it is a Jewish custom to place a small
stone on the headstone to show that that you visited the grave.)
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