There is a Season for Everything: Death and Mourning Rituals
How May We Help You?
When you experience a death in the family, please call the Temple office at (805) 964-7869 and let us know. Our clergy, including Rabbi Steve Cohen, Cantor Mark Childs, and Rabbi Daniel Brenner, are always available to speak with you and help you through this difficult time.
When you call the Temple office, please let the staff know the name of the deceased, the date of death, and if possible, the date of burial. If you plan to sit shiva (see below), please let us know the dates and times. We would also like to know whether you plan to observe the Hebrew or civil anniversary of the death, but this can be determined at a later time.
In addition to the resources on this webpage, please read our CBB pamphlet on Death and Dying. This pamphlet includes resources for end-of-life preparation, and for when death is imminent. The Rabbi and Cantor are also available to answer any questions you have regarding customs of death and mourning. We are here to help.
Death and Burial
- Grief: Grief is a natural response to death. If you need help while you grieve or in adjusting to life without your loved one, please contact Rabbi Cohen or Cantor Childs. Jewish Family Service, (805) 957-1116, can also provide you with assistance in the grieving process.
- Preparation for Burial: If you are interested in learning about the mitzvot of shomer/et (staying with the deceased until burial), and tahara (preparing the body for burial), please contact Cantor Childs or rabbinic intern Debi Scott at email@example.com.
- The Funeral: Some families choose to have the funeral service at the Temple prior to the graveside service; others prefer only the latter. If you choose to have a memorial service sometime after the funeral, the office will help you make the necessary arrangements. Please note that both local mortuaries, McDermott-Crockett and Welch-Ryce-Haider, are well versed in Jewish funeral rituals.
Rituals of Mourning
Traditionally, you are only required to observe the rituals of mourning listed here if the deceased was your parent, spouse, sibling, or child.
- Sitting Shiva:
The seven-day mourning period of shiva (Hebrew for “seven”) begins immediately after the funeral. While shiva customs vary, these are commonly observed:
- Lighting of a shiva candle, upon returning home from the cemetery. This candle burns for seven days. Based on folk custom, it is said to dispel the darkness that a death brings. No blessing accompanies the lighting of the shiva candle. This candle is provided by the mortuary and is also available at Temple.
- Eating a “meal of consolation” (or condolence), which is often provided by friends of the mourners. The members of our Caring Community are also available to provide this meal; please ask call the Temple office for details.
- Kaddish: Kaddish, although commonly referred to as a prayer for the dead, is actually a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
- Reciting kaddish with a shiva minyan at your home: A minyan is a group of 10 Jewish adults that is required to have a public prayer service. This will allow you to say kaddish for your loved one. Traditionally, a minyan is held for seven days (Shabbat and other holidays at the synagogue) each morning and/or evening.
- Reciting kaddish at the Temple: We encourage you to attend a service on the Shabbat immediately following the funeral, when your loved one’s name will be read and the congregation will join you in reciting kaddish. To say kaddish for a loved one at Temple, join us for the following minyanim:
- Fridays: 6 pm, Shabbat evening service, at CBB in the Sanctuary.
- Saturday: 10:30 am, Shabbat morning service, at CBB in the Sanctuary.
- Shloshim: From the Hebrew word “thirty,” shloshim refers to the 30 days from burial. The name of the deceased will be read before kaddish at Temple on Shabbat.
- Gravesite “Unveiling”: You may lay a memorial plaque at the grave site any time after shiva. The memorial plaque, which is covered with a cloth, is “unveiled” during the service. A brief service may be held, at which prayers and psalms are recited, and words of remembrance may be offered. The presence of clergy is not required for an unveiling; however, Rabbi and Cantor can be invited to attend or provide you with appropriate readings.
- Yahrzeit: Yahrzeit is the anniversary of a death. In German, this word means “Time of Year” (Yahr = year; Zeit = time). Each Shabbat, we read the names of all the deceased whose yahrzeits occur in the coming week. Please click here to read more about commemorating your loved one’s yahrzeit.
- Yizkor: Yizkor comes from the Hebrew verb “to remember.” In addition to the anniversary of your loved one’s death, there are four days during the Hebrew year when you may light a yahrzeit candle and recite special memorial prayers during services at Temple: Yom Kippur, the morning of Simchat Torah, the seventh day of Passover, and the morning of Shavuot. The Temple office would be happy to provide you with these dates.
Additional Ways to Commemorate Your Loved One
- Memorial Plaque at the Temple : You may choose to honor the memory of your loved one by purchasing a memorial plaque, to be mounted in the Girsh/Hochman Sanctuary. Please contact the Temple office for details.
- Memorial Leaf on the CBB Tree of Life: The Tree of Life if a beautiful, artistic, and “growing” installation on the wall of the CBB Social Hall. If you would like to sponsor a memorial leaf you can use our order form, or contact the Temple office.