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Glossary of Terms...

Glossary of Terms

Aron – (A-rone) the burial casket. Jewish burial requires a wooden casket in keeping with the Biblical teaching “For dust art thou and to the dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19)

Arrangement Conference – A meeting in which the Funeral Director gathers with the family of the deceased to make funeral arrangements.

Arrangement Room – A room in the funeral home used to make the necessary funeral arrangements with the family of the deceased.

At Need – Funeral and cemetery arrangements made at the time of death.

Benches/Boxes – To symbolize that their spirits are low, many Jewish mourners choose to sit on low benches or boxes during shiva.

Burial – Placing of remains in an underground chamber, usually in a cemetery; also called ground burial interment.

Burial Certificate or Permit – A legal document issued by the local government authorizing disposition. The permit may authorize ground burial, cremation, entombment or removal.

Burial Vault – A lined and sealed unit that is specifically engineered to support the weight of the earth grave as well as the heavy equipment that passes over it.

Cantor – A religious singer, or Chazan, who assists the clergy.

Casket – A container made of wood, metal or plastic into which the body is placed for interment. Caskets are sometimes referred to as “coffins.”

Cemetery – A business with property set aside for the disposition of the deceased.

Certified Death Certificate – A certified copy of the original certificate issued by the local government.  Certified death certificates are used when making claims for insurance and other death benefits.

Chapel – A large room in the funeral home in which the funeral or memorial service is held.

Chesed shel Emet – Acts of True Kindness

Chevrah Kadisha – Hebrew meaning “Holy Society”

Companion Crypt – A vault of chamber designed for two side-by-side burial.

Crypt – A vault or chamber used for keeping remains.

Death Certificate – A legal document signed by the attending physician showing the cause of death and other vital statistical data pertaining to the deceased.

Disinter – To remove the remains from their place of interment.

Display Room – The room in the funeral home in which funeral merchandise such as:  caskets, burial garments and vaults are displayed.

El Malei Rachamin – a memorial prayer (Northern European tradition)

Eulogy – A brief speech, in Hebrew referred to as Hesped, that offers praise and celebrates the life of the person who has passed.

Exhume – To disinter.

Family Car – The vehicle, often a limousine, in the funeral procession set aside for use by the immediate family.

Family Room – A specially arranged room in the funeral home which affords the family privacy at the time of the funeral service.

Final Disposition – The final arrangement, generally referring to the decision to choose between burial or alternative burial.

First Call – The initial call from the family notifying the funeral home of a death and requesting the funeral homes services.

Funeral Director –A professional who helps families to plan funeral services for their loved ones while honoring the deceased and celebrating a life lived.

Funeral Home – A business that offers funeral services for the deceased and their families. Also called a mortuary.

Funeral Service – A ceremony marking an individual’s death. The funeral service can be a religious or cultural event and helps to honor the deceased.

Grave – An excavation in the earth for the purpose of burying the deceased.

Grave or Memorial Marker – Commonly referred to as headstones, these are memorials that are usually made of metal or stone which include such information as the name of the individual, date of birth and death, symbols and words of tribute; also called monuments when they stand upright.

Hearse – A motor coach designed and usually used for the transporting of the casketed remains from the place the funeral service is conducted to the cemetery. A hearse is also known as a coach.

Hesped – a eulogy or true evaluation of the deceased’s life that is part of the funeral service.

Inter – To bury human remains in the earth in a grave or tomb.

Interment – The burial or final placement of remains.

Kaddish – a prayer recited for the deceased by the direct mourners for the first time at the conclusion of the interment service. Then at every service for eleven months by the children for parents, other mourners obligation for 30 days.
View Kaddish Prayers

Kavod-Ha-Met – Honoring the Dead

K’riah – (Kree-ah) the practice of rending or cutting a garment, or symbolically wearing a cut black ribbon over the heart, to indicate that one is in mourning. Those observing keriah are generally adult children, father/mother, brother/sister, or spouse of the deceased.

Kever – the grave.

Kittel – A hand-sewn white linen shroud in which the deceased members of the Jewish faith are dressed.

Kvurah B’kara – (Kvoo-rah B’kar-kah) burial in the ground. Biblical mandate requires burial in the ground, filling the grave completely until a mound is formed. Participation in filling the grave is a religious privilege and duty and an expression of honor for the deceased. Above ground burial is an option you may discuss with the funeral director.

Limousine – A luxurious automobile designed to seat five or more persons behind the driver’s seat.

Magen David (Star of David) – a hexagram formed by the combination of two triangles, also called the Jewish Star.

Mausoleum – A public or private building especially designed for entombment. It is usually a permanent, above–ground resting place for the deceased.

Memorial Candle – The candle is a reminder of the deceased as well as the presence of God. The memorial candle usually burns continuously for about seven days.

Memorial Donation – A memorial contribution specified to a particular cause or charity, usually in lieu of flowers.

Memorial Service – A service conducted in memory of the deceased without the remains being present; also called a tribute service.

Menorah – A candelabrum with a central stem bearing seven candles; the oldest symbol in Judaism.

Met – Deceased.

Mitzvah – the funeral procession (Iberian tradition).

Mitzvah – commandment.

Monument (Stone) – A permanent marker indicating the location of a grave, usually at the head or foot of the grave. Some family plots are marked by a single stone with the name(s) of the family, while other graves are marked with individual names, including Hebrew names, dates of birth and death, familial relationships and sometimes a phrase of remembrance.

Mortalha – A hand-sewn white linen shroud in which the deceased members of the Jewish

Morgue – A place in which the bodies of persons found deceased are kept until identified and claimed or until arrangements for burial have been made.

Next-of-Kin – a person’s nearest relative; the person who hold the responsibility for making decisions for the funeral on behalf of the deceased.

Obituary – The paragraph in the obituary section of a newspaper, or on the Internet, publicizing the death of a person and giving details of the funeral service the survivors wish to have published.

Outer Burial Container – A concrete, metal or wood structure used to support a casket in the ground.

Pallbearers – Individuals whose duty is to carry the casket when necessary during funeral service. Pallbearers in some sections of the country are hired and in other sections are close friends and relatives of the deceased.

Plot – A measured piece of land in a cemetery in which interment rights are purchased by a family or individual. A plot usually contains two or more graves.

Prearranged Funeral – Funeral arrangements completed by an individual prior to his/her death, often funded by insurance or trust.

Preparation Room – A room in a funeral home designed and equipped for preparing the deceased for final disposition.

Preplan – Preplanning is the process in which an individual creates their statement of wishes for their final event plan allowing loved ones to focus on celebrating a life lived.

Private Family Estate – A small section of a cemetery, usually bordered by gates, shrubbery or other dividers, that allow for ground burial of several members of the same family.

Private Family Mausoleum – An above ground structure designed to hold, on average, two to twelve decedents, usually members of the same family.

Private Service – This service is by invitation only and may be held at a place of worship, a funeral home or a family home.

Procession – The vehicular movement of the funeral from the place where the funeral service was conducted to the cemetery. May also apply to a church funeral where the mourners follow the casket as it is brought into and taken out of the synagogue or temple.

Rabbi – A teacher or ordained leader in the Jewish faith.

Rechitzah – the ceremony of washing the deceased before burial.

Register – A book made available by the Funeral Director for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased. Also has space for entering other data such as name, dates of birth and death of the deceased, name of the officiating clergyman, place of interment, time and date of service, list of floral tributes, etc.

Sargenes – A hand-sewn white linen shroud in which the deceased members of the Jewish faith are dressed.

Shabbat – The Jewish Sabbath; begins sundown Friday ends sundown Saturday.

Sheloshim – (sh’losh-sheem) the thirty days following burial (including shiva).

Shiva – (Shee-vah) the traditional seven-day mourning period immediately following burial, observed by the bereaved. Consult your rabbi for details on the customs and observances of shiva.

Shmira – (Shmee-rah) the watching of remains. To show respect to the departed, the deceased is never left alone until after burial. The Schomer (Watcher) traditionally recites psalms.

Shomer – A watcher; one who sits with the body until burial.

Sympathy Card – A card sent to the family to express their sympathy.

Tachrichim – (Takh-ree-kheem) the burial shroud. A full set of traditional white clothing, preferably made of linen, includes: hat, shirt, pants, jacket, belt and wrapping sheet. This garment symbolizes equality and purity.

Taharah – (Ta-ha-rah) the traditional washing and dressing of the deceased with dignity. Performed by trained members of the Chevra Kadisha (Sacred Society). In accordance with Jewish traditional law, men prepare men, while women prepare women.

Tallith – A prayer shawl worn by men during the morning prayer service

Tehillim – prayers said before the funeral by a group of friends and the shomer, from the book of Psalms.

Unveiling – A ceremony in which the monument is displayed publicly for the first time. Many Jews assume the unveiling should be on the first anniversary of death, but it may actually take place any time after shivah. In the New York area, most families choose to hold unveilings during May, June, September and October, when the good weather makes it easier to get to the cemetery.

Visitation – An opportunity for survivors and friends to view the deceased in private usually in a special room within the funeral home; also referred to as viewing.

Visitation Room – A room of the funeral home where family and friends gather.

Yahrzeit – the anniversary of the death.

Yarmulke/Kippah – the skull cap worn by the men at synagogue/temple services and funeral services.

Yizkor – a memorial prayer.


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