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Resources - Glossary

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Anninut: The period of time between death and the funeral

Aron (a-rone): the burial casket. Jewish burial requires a wooden casket in keeping with Genesis 3:19 - "For dust art thou and to the dust thou shalt return".

Avel: The Hebrew term for a mourner after the funeral; before burial, the term onen is used.

Aveilut: The 11-month mourning period for individuals whose parent has died; Kaddish is recited daily.

Chevra Kadisha: The sacred burial society, which is a group of individuals who prepare a body for burial.

Kaddish: The traditional prayer in praise of G-d recited after burial; the mourner’s prayer

Kriah (kree-ah): The practice of rending or cutting a garment, or symbolically wearing a cut black ribbon, as a sign of mourning. Those observing kriah are generally the adult children, father/mother, brother/sister or spouse of the deceased.

Kvurah B'karka (kvoo-rah b’kar-kah): Burial in the ground. Biblical mandate requires burial in the ground, filling the grave completely until a mound is formed. Participation in filling the grave is a religious privilege and duty and is an expression of honor for the deceased.

Mait: Hebrew term for the deceased

Nihum Avelim: The mitzvah of consoling mourners

Onen: A person who hears of the death of a parent, spouse, sibling, or child - someone in between - until the funeral.

Sheloshim (sh’losh-eem): The thirty-day period following burial; the second stage of mourning; mourners return to their normal routine but refrain from many customary pleasurable activities (i.e.: attending a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah.)

Shmira (shmee-rah): The watching of remains. To show respect to the departed, the deceased is never left alone until after burial. The Shomer (watcher) traditionally recites Tehilim (psalms).

Shiva (shee-vah): The traditional seven-day mourning period immediately following burial, observed by the bereaved; mourners are visited at their home by family and community and participate in prayer services.

Tachrichim (takh-ree-kheem): The traditional burial garment, more often known as shrouds. A full set of white clothing, preferably made of linen, includes a hat, shirt, pants, jacket, belt and wrapping sheet. This set of garments symbolizes equality and purity.

Tahara: The ritual washing of the body as performed by the Chevra Kadisha

Yahrzeit: The anniversary of the date of death according to the Hebrew calendar

Yizkor: From the term “to remember,” the memorial service which is held four times annually during Passover, Shavuot, Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret