How to Plan a Funeral
Grief & Healing
Help & Guidance
Jewish Grieving Customs
Facing the Legalities
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When should the funeral service take place?
By Jewish law and custom, the burial should take place as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of death. When this is not feasible, Jewish law requires one to complete the arrangements as expeditiously as possible.
Where should the service take place?
Everything done for the deceased falls under the rubric of “k’vod ha-meit,” respect for the deceased.
Here in San Diego the majority of our services are held at the gravesite. If the deceased had been an active member of a Synagogue, the service might take place in the Synagogue.
How do I prepare for the service?
If the Rabbi is the only speaker, then your meeting or talking with the Rabbi will provide all the information necessary for the eulogy. If others in the family, or friends, plan to speak, then they will make the necessary preparations. Although it can be very honorable to the deceased for family members to speak, keep in mind that it is very difficult to eulogize someone, it is a very emotional time for the family, and excessive eulogizing tends to detract from the dignity of the occasion.
What should I wear?
There is no prescribed “funeral attire”, nor must the clothing be black. You should wear comfortable, yet dignified attire, appropriate to the occasion, a religious ceremony commemorating the life of your loved one. If you plan to do a traditional k’riyah, cutting the garments, be sure to wear something “cuttable.”
How long does the service take?
The “average” funeral service usually takes 30-40 minutes. If others will be speaking, the length of the service obviously, then, depends on them. If there are multiple speakers, the service could take an hour. Please advise the Rabbi if there will be additional speakers.
Should I bring children?
Jewish tradition regards a funeral as a very important part of the life cycle, and an important educational opportunity. Children are naturally curious, and amazingly resilient. They will absorb as much as is appropriate for their age and level of maturity. They will ask questions; answers need not be complete, but should always be truthful. Most children are perfectly capable of dealing with such stressful situations, sometimes actually better than adults, and under normal circumstances their presence at both the funeral service and the burial is appropriate. Ultimately, however, you know your own children, and must make a decision based on what is best for them and for you.