Death and Tahara

Death and Tahara

Jewish tradition provides a rich variety of rituals and practices that honor the dead and allow mourners to adjust to the loss of a loved one. An important role of the Adat Shalom community is to assist members during these difficult life transitions, providing spiritual and emotional support. A Guide to Jewish Funeral and Mourning Practices provides a brief description of traditional and contemporary Jewish ritual practices and explains the type of support provided by the clergy, Lifecycle Committee, and Congregation. The Guide also includes information about services provided by the broader Jewish community, and specific information useful to someone who is faced with the death of a loved one.

Adat Shalom has purchased a section at the Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park, Gan Zikaron, a nonprofit Jewish cemetery in Northern Montgomery County. Plots can be purchased through the Adat Shalom office. Call the Executive Director at 301-767-3333, ext.107 to learn more and to discuss your needs.

Should a death occur in your immediate circle, please call one of our clergy, a Lifecycle chairperson, or the office. Whoever you reach first will in turn notify the others, and the community will be there for you as quickly as possible.

Tahara is the ritual pouring of water before dressing the met for burial. Also refers to the entire service. Participation in tahara is a mitzvah of the highest order performed by Jews to honor a deceased person who is Jewish, and Adat Shalom has compiled a “Reconstructionist Tahara Handbook for Women and Men” that contains the service and instructions for performing tahara.

Yahrzeits

A Yahrzeit is the anniversary of the death of a loved one. It is traditionally observed on the Hebrew date of death (which can vary from the Gregorian date by up to a few weeks in any given year) by lighting a 25-hour candle the night before, and by coming to synagogue to say Kaddish. At Adat Shalom, we read the names aloud (usually near noon-time) on the Shabbat before the individual’s Yahrzeit – and when the Yahrzeit happens to fall on Shabbat, names are read twice, both on the previous Shabbat and on the day the Yartzheit is observed.

If you wish for your loved one’s name to be read aloud at synagogue, please be sure that the office has the following information for our Yahrzeit database:

  1. The individual’s name;
  2. Their relationship to you; and
  3. The date and approximate time of the individual’s death (before or after sundown is the question; if they passed in the evening, the Hebrew date matches that of the following day).

Once we have this information, we will send you a reminder card during the month prior to the Yahrzeit, which will tell you the date of the Shabbat on which Kaddish will be recited in memory of your loved one. It will also provide the Gregorian date on which the Yahrzeit candle is to be lit, as well as the actual Hebrew date of the Yahrzeit.

If you will be away for the Shabbat when your loved one’s name is read, or if you would like to change the Yahrzeit reading to a date of your choosing, please contact our Clergy Assistant, Sarah Wesson, at 301-767-3333 ext. 106, or by email at sarah.wesson@adatshalom.net.) You may also contact our Clergy Assistant for any questions regarding Yahrzeits, or should you have information with which we can update our database.

When we remember them for a blessing, the departed live on among us, as a blessing. We encourage you to allow us to honor your loved one’s memory, now and in the future. Zichronam livracha…