VIII. After The Funeral And Interment
As mentioned above, after burial or cremation, the focus shifts from paying appropriate respect to the deceased to easing the pain of the living. Jewish traditions and practices define periods of mourning and ways for the bereaved to gradually reenter the stream of life.
Upon Returning from the Cemetery
Following the interment, the mourners normally return to the home of the deceased or another family member or another location. Others who attended the funeral or burial service are normally invited to join them.
Some choose to follow the custom of having a container of water and a towel outside the door of the house of mourning. This serves the practical purpose of allowing those whose hands are soiled from participating in the interment to wash their hands before entering the home and symbolizes the fulfillment of one’s responsibilities at the cemetery.
When family and friends have gathered, a brief service is customarily held.
The Memorial Candle
At the conclusion of the home service, a seven day memorial candle, a “shiva candle,” provided by the funeral home, is lit at the home of the bereaved, as a symbol of the light the deceased brought to friends and loved ones during life. It recalls the biblical teaching, “the human spirit is the light of the Eternal.”
The Meal of Consolation
Customarily, food and beverages are set out by friends so the mourners may take nourishment after a physically and emotionally exhausting experience. Several foods are traditionally served, including hard-boiled eggs, which symbolize the Jewish affirmation of life, even in the aftermath of death.
(click on section titles to navigate to page)