What Happens At A Jewish Funeral:
At a Jewish funeral, friends and family gather to remember the person who has died. You may notice that immediate family members (spouse, children, parents and/or siblings) of the person who has died are wearing a torn ribbon pinned to their clothes—this ritual comes from Biblical time when mourners ripped their clothes when they learned of a loved one’s death. The funeral may be lead by a rabbi, cantor or other Jewish leader. Usually psalms are read, the Hebrew prayer for the dead, El Malei Rachamim, is recited and a loved one shares a eulogy about the person who has died. The Mourners Kaddish, a prayer that affirms life and God’s greatness, is recited. The funeral may take place at a synagogue, funeral home or at the cemetery. The casket will be closed. When the casket is lowered into the ground, it is the tradition for those who are present to shovel dirt onto the casket. For the first year, the grave will not be marked with a stone. Families will gather a year after the funeral for an unveiling ceremony, in which the stone is laid.
It is certainly a personal decision about whether or not to bring your child to the funeral of a loved one. It is important if you choose to do so to talk about the funeral ahead of time. Many families will bring a babysitter along so that if the child feels like he/she would prefer to wait outside, parents can remain.
Every year, loved ones light a special memorial candle called a Yahrzeit candle on the anniversary of their loved one’s death. This rotual is something that you can include children in, explaining that the candle is a way of remembering your loved one’s spirit and bringing your special memories to mind.