The Unveiling: Q & A

  • bugThe Unveiling: Questions & Answers
How soon after death, should an unveiling be held?
Although it has been the general custom to unveil the monument around the eleventh month after death, with the completion of the Kaddish, Orthodox Jews frequently have their unveiling any time after Shloshem (30 days) have elapsed. Unveilings are held during periods that are most convenient, taking into account the weather, summer vacation periods, expected births, weddings, and bar/bat-mitzvahs, so as not to conflict with these more joyous occasions.
Does Jewish Custom permit the visiting of the Cemetery before the erection of a monument?
Most Rabbis advise that the unveiling should be the first occasion for visiting the grave. A more liberal opinion expressed by some Rabbis is that extenuating circumstances can exist to warrant visiting an unmarked grave. It is custom among Orthodox Jews to seek spiritual guidance from a visit to the grave of a deceased parent or spouse. Should such an occasion arise prior to the erection of the monument, a rabbi may be consulted to gain permission to visit the grave. This is called “asking a shalah.”
How is an Unveiling ceremony conducted?
The immediate family should be at the site of the grave before the others arrive. They can then secure the unveiling cloth on the monument. (This cloth and the invitations for the unveiling are supplied by Shastone Memorials.) Then the family and friends gather around the grave. The Rabbi begins with the recitations from the book of psalms (Tillem) and then he follows with the eulogy in English or Yiddish. After this, he recites further psalms and ends with the Kaddish prayer. The veil is removed immediately before the recitation of the Kaddish.
How soon before the unveiling are notices mailed to family and friends?
Cards (supplied by Shastone Memorials) should be mailed about two weeks before the unveiling. These cards will have driving directions to the Cemeteries printed on the reverse side of the card. Directions to the gravesite are supplied by the Cemetery.
Is it necessary for a rabbi to officiate at the unveiling?
While it is not required by religious law, a rabbi is best acquainted with the ritual of an unveiling and the appropriate prayers. In choosing a rabbi, it is preferable to choose one who was personally acquainted with the deceased. It would also be wise to choose a rabbi who practices the same type of Judaism as the family or the deceased (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed).
Is a minion necessary at an unveiling?
Yes. A minion consists of ten males over thirteen years of age. Unless a minion is present, the Mourners Kaddish may not be recited.
What is the significance of an unveiling cloth over the monument?
In early times, the family physically erected the monument to its loved ones. The monument might have been a pile of boulders surmounted by a crudely lettered slab of stone bearing the name of the deceased. All the kin participated and witnessed their completed handiwork together. In present society, it became necessary to delegate this task to others and dedicate the monument on a day convenient to family and friends. It is desirable that their tribute to the deceased’s memory be revealed by the removal of the veil or covering, simultaneously to all, and that its full significance be interpreted by the rabbi in his eulogy.
During what periods are unveilings prohibited?
Since unveilings are solemn occasions they are usually not held when they conflict with the occurrence of a Jewish festival holiday such as the period of Nissan. They are also not held during the Rosh Chodesh period, the occurrence of the new moon. While unveilings are definitely prohibited on high holidays, which usually occur in September (Elul) they may be held between holidays, before and after them due to the solemnity of these holidays. Most unveilings that should occur in July and August, are postponed until that period.
Introduction and Welcome (read aloud)
In solemn assembly, we have gathered at the grave of our dear relative & friend _____________, who within the year was summoned to his / her heavenly abode. Though days and weeks and months have passed since they were taken from our midst, the void in our lives has made us ever conscious of their memory. As we stand here, let us resolve in our hearts to stress in our daily lives that which death can never take from us. Everything physical shall in time disappear. These very tombstones shall one day crumble to the earth, but the fruits of the good deeds of our departed shall live on. Everything perishes, save those spiritual achievements, which can be transmitted to future generations. May the memories of our beloved inspire us to leave behind living monuments, indestructible memorialsaccomplishments that shall testify to the fruitfulness of our span of years, whatever length it may be. Then shall our departed live on in our hearts and in our lives, in the hearts of others, and in the lives of those who come after us.
Psalms and Poetry: Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He guideth me in straight paths for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runnethbover.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains; from whence shall my help come?
My help cometh from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper; The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall keep thee from all evil; He shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and forever.
We Remember Them:
At the rising of the sun and at its going down we remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter, we remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
When we are, weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart we remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share, we remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make we remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs, we remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
When we think of those companions who traveled by our side down life’s road, let us not say with sadness that they left us behind, rather say with gratitude, that they once were with us.
To Everything There Is a Season:
To everything, there is a season;
A time for everything under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to laugh and a time to mourn,
A time to seek and a time to lose.
This is a time we gather to remember
Someone who gave meaning to our lives.
This is the time we recall
The bonds that hold us, the love we shared,
The memories that sustain us.
Hold On - from Many Winters - Nancy Woods:
Hold on to what is good
Even if it is
A handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is
A tree, which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when
It is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when
I have gone away from you.
Birth Is a Beginning - Alvin I. Fine:
Birth is a beginning
In addition, death a destination.
In addition, life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
And then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength
Or strength to weaknessAnd, often back again;
From health to sickness.
And back, we pray, to health again;
From offense to forgiveness,
From loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude,
From pain to compassion,
And grief to understandingFrom fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeatUntil, looking backward or ahead,
We see that victory lies
Not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey, stage by stage,
A sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.
But life is a journey,
A sacred pilgrimageTo life everlasting
We Are Loved By an Unending Love - Rabbi R. Shapiro
We are loved by an unending love.
We are embraced by arms that find us even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.
We are supported by hands that uplift us even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.
Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
Ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an unending love.
Knowing Love:
I will allow all things to come and go
To be a supple as the wind
And to take everything that comes with great courage
Life is right in any case
And my heart will remain as open as the sky…
After a While:
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And that company doesn’t always mean security.
And you learn that kisses aren’t contracts, and presents aren’t promises. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes straight ahead, with the grace of a woman or a man, not the grief of a child and you learn to build all your roads on today, because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans, and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you ask too much. So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure, and that you really are strong, and that you really have worth, and you learn, and you learn…
With every goodbye, you learn.
Prayer for Those Not With Us
As we stand here, full of pride and love, Our hearts and thoughts recall others who are not with us. And yet, they are so much a part of us and our lives, that it is hard not to feel them present. A child’s gesture recalls that of a grandparent he never knew. An act of kindness and generosity reminds us of the example of a much loved aunt or uncle. The laugh of one recalls for us the joy of another. A chain of memory and blood binds us one to the other thru the years and thru the generations, And now, with a full heart, we pause and remember and proudly add to that chain.
There are Stars - Hannah Szenes
There are stars whose light reaches the earth only after they themselves have disintegrated and are no more. And there are people who’s scintillating memory lights the world after they have passed from it. These lights which shine in the darkest night are those which illumine for us the path.
Unveiling and Dedication (read aloud)
On behalf of family and loved ones, we consecrate this memorial to ______________ as a sign of our eternal love and devotion.
We remember now the moments we shared; the times of celebration, and the times of difficulty: we remember now the times of warmth and closeness, and the times of love and companionship. We pray, O G-d, that you treasure all that was good in his/ her life, and that you will help all of us to retain that good as part of the very fabric of our lives.
Grant consolation, O G-d, to us and to all who mourn with us. Heal our hurt. Sustain our faith. May the memory of our beloved _______________ make all of life more precious to us.
May we see this monument as a reminder of what is most enduring, the immortality of the soul, memories that never fade, love that remains alive.
Though the pain of our mourning is deep, the love we had for ____________ and the love that _______________ gave to us calls upon us to care lovingly for one another. May he / she live in our hearts. May we think of him / her tenderly and revere his / her memory. May we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to our chosen tasks for his / her sake.
Thus will our beloved ___________ be recalled and live every day.
(Remove the cloth from the stone and read from the stone’s inscription. Then take a moment of silence. At the end of the service invite everyone to place a stone or pebble on the memorial.)
El Malei Rachamim
O, God, full of compassion, Thou who dwellest on high, grant perfect rest beneath the shelter of Thy divine presence among the holy and pure who shine as the brightness of the firmament to the soul of my beloved who has gone to his (her) eternal home.
Mayest Thou, O God of Mercy, shelter him (her) forever under the wings of Thy presence, May his (her) soul be bound up in the bond of life eternal, and grant that the memories of my life inspire me always to noble and consecrated living. Amen.
El Malei Rachamim shochen bamiromim,
Hamtzey menucha nechona tachas kanfey hashechina,
B’ maalos kedoshim ut’ horim kezohar harakeea
mazhirim es nishma (name).
Shehalach 1’olamo
Ba’voor shenadvoo tzedaka b’ad hazkaras nishmaso b’ gan eden t’ hay m’ noochaso lachen baal harachamim yastirayhoo b’seser kna fav 1’olamim v’ytzror bitzror hachayim es nishmaso
Adonoy hoo nachalaso, v’yanooach b’shalom al mishkavo, v’nomar ah’main.
Shehalacha 1’olama
Ba’voor shenadvoo tzedaka b’ad hazkaras nishmasa b’ gan eden t’ hay m’ noochasa lachen baal harachamim yastirah b’seser k’nofaf 1’olamim v’ytzror bitzror hachayim es nishmasa
Adonoy hoo nachalasa, v’sanuach b’shalom al mishkava, v’nornar ah’main.
The Mourners Kaddish:
Transliteration of Mourner’s Kaddish:
Yit-gadal v’yit-kadash sh’may raba b’alma dee-v’ra che-ru-tay, ve’yam-lich mal-chutay b’chai-yay-chon uv’yo-may-chon uv-cha-yay d’chol beit Yisrael, baagala u’vitze-man ka-riv, ve’imru amen. Y’hay sh’may raba me’varach le-alam uleh-almay alma-ya. Yit-barach v’yish-tabach, v’yit-pa-ar v’yit-romam v’yit-nasay, v’yit-hadar v’yit-aleh v’yit-halal sh’may d’koo-d’shah, b’rich hoo. layla (ool-ayla)* meen kol beer-chata v’she-rata, toosh-b’chata v’nay-ch’mata, da-a meran b’alma, ve’imru amen. Y’hay sh’lama raba meen sh’maya v’cha-yim aleynu v’al kol Yisrael, ve’imru amen. O’seh shalom beem-romav, hoo ya’ah-seh shalom aleynu v’al kol Yisrael, ve’imru amen.

Magnified and sanctified be G-d’s great name in the world, which He created according to His will. May he establish His kingdom during our lifetime and during the lifetime of Israel. Let us say, Amen.
May G-d’s great name be blessed forever and ever.
Blessed, glorified, honored and extolled, adored and acclaimed be the name of the Holy One, though G-d is beyond all praises and songs of adoration, which can be uttered. Let us say, Amen.
May there be peace and life for all of us and for all Israel. Let us say, Amen.
Let He who makes peace in the heavens, grant peace to all of us and to all Israel. Let us say, Amen.

Sharing of memories:
Take this opportunity to share stories and memories about your loved one. Allow time for family and friends to talk or read prepared remarks.
Prayers and Meditations: (When Visiting a Grave after an unveiling) AT THE GRAVE OF A WIFE:
With a sorrowing heart, O beloved wife, I fondly recall your love and companionship, your tenderness and devotion and the many comforts and joys you brought into my life. As I stand now before your grave, my heart cries out for the gentle touch of your hand and your sweet compassion. Never will I forget the hardships and the pleasures, trials and triumphs, joys and sorrows, we shared together. You helped dispel my fear, in time of need encouraged me, and stood by my side. I pray that our children may ever be inspired by your precious memory. May they always remember, and strive to imitate thy gentleness, piety and virtue. O God, grant unto her for whom I mourn, all the joys of eternity, grant that her soul may watch as a guardian angel over my bereaved children, remove every evil influence from them, and lead them in the way of righteousness, so that we may one day be all deemed worthy of being numbered among the blessed. O heavenly Father, grant that the soul of my beloved wife be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen
O God, behold and see the sorrow of my heart. Widowed and bereft I mourn the loss of the dear companion of my heart. Thou sleep beneath this tomb, dear husband, and while thou cannot hear me, neither can thou see my tears. My existence is now a void, joy and happiness have fled with thee, and I must bear the burden of life alone, for thy hand can no longer protect me, nor my heart repose on time. All is cold and sorrow, and I come to pour out my grief at thy grave. May God support me in this heavy trial, may He in mercy pardon the words of bitterness, which have escaped from my widowed heart. O God, protect my bereaved children, deprived of their earthly father’s care. Heavenly Father, extend thy omnipotent protection, and inspire them with a love of duty and fidelity to our faith, and veneration for their father’s memory. I pray, O Lord, that the precious memories of our happy years together, may ever be an incentive to noble and sanctified living. May my endeavors to practice what is good atone for my errors, and be accepted in order to assume the salvation of my soul. Father of all, grant that the soul of my beloved husband be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell upon Thy holy mountain? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart; That hath no slander upon his tongue, nor doeth evil to his fellow nor taketh on a reproach against his neighbor . . . He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15
The memory of your life, dear father, rises before me this solemn moment as I stand before your grave and recall all the years of unselfish devotion, kindness, love and encouragement, which you have shown me during your life. I recall all the sacrifices you made for my welfare, and the many comforts with which you provided me. You rejoiced in my achievements, you guided me in my perplexities, and strengthened me in my trials and disappointments. The passing of time will never diminish the blessed memories of your life.
I can pay you the tribute, which you so richly deserve, by cherishing the ideals and principles you have taught me, by continuing the noble work you have left unfinished, by loyally upholding the heritage of Israel, which you have transmitted unto me, and by serving my people and all who need me.
Though you are gone from my physical presence, the bond of love, which unites us, can never be severed.
May God grant that my father’s memory ever inspire me, and may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in things too great, or in things too wonderful for me. Surely, I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is with me like a weaned child. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.
Psalm 131
Though we are separated, dear mother, at this solemn moment when I stand before your grave, I call to mind the love and solicitude with which you tended and watched over my childhood, ever mindful of my welfare, and ever anxious for my happiness. I feel the closeness of your spirit, mother dear, and my heart is filled with tender emotion as I recollect the many sacrifices you made to ennoble my heart and instruct my mind. I am grateful for your every blessing, your kindly deeds, your understanding heart, your sacrificial devotion and your warm love so freely given. What I achieved is because of your influence, and what I am, I have become through you. Indeed, the wisdom that you imparted unto me shall ever remain with me. If at times, I have failed in showing you the love and appreciation, which you so worthily deserved; if I have been thoughtless and ungrateful; I ask to be forgiven. In tribute to your beautiful memory, I implore your inspiration to noble and intelligent living as I cherish the recollections of your lifetime. I pray, O God that the soul of my dear mother be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
O merciful God, standing here at the grave of my dear brother (sister), I fondly recollect the happy years we spent together, sharing the love and traditions of our home and family. Alas! Death claimed thee too soon, and removed thee too early from those who loved thee. Though Thou hast called him (her) back, O God, I shall always hold sacred memories of his (her) kindness and sincerity, love and devotion. O Lord, grant that the recollections of his (her) life provide an incentive to righteous living. I place my trust in Thee who are the source of all life and my strength in time of sorrow. Though a link has been severed from our family chain, help me, O God, to be more closely united with those dear ones who remain. May the soul of my beloved brother (sister) be bound up in the bond of eternal life together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
Almighty Father, as I stand at the grave of my beloved child, I tenderly recall the joys that he (she) gave me during his (her) lifetime. How I delighted in his (her) physical and mental growth. How I planned for his (her) future. Though few and brief were the years wherein I rejoiced with my beloved child, many indeed were the blessings he (she) brought into our home. The passage of years will never fill the void in my heart, nor can time soften the pain of bereavement. Though he (she) is no longer in our midst, his (her) memory shall forever be enshrined in my heart.
O merciful God, Giver of life, Thou hast recalled what is Thine own, and hast taken him (her) into
Thy loving care and keeping. Though my heart still grieves, may I, who have known the joys of parenthood, bring love and cheer into the lives of others. I pray that the soul of my dearly beloved child be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.