We are very sorry for your loss and hope we can support you at this difficult time. In addition to the emotional challenges, losing a loved one can present several logistical challenges as well and we at Pinner Shul will try our best to help you with both of these. Below are a few questions you may have but please do contact us directly for anything else we can help with
I have just lost a loved one, who should I contact?
The United Synagogue Burial Society will be able to guide you through your first steps, particularly getting a death certificate, which will be necessary for burial. You can contact them on 020 8950 7767. If the office is closed, leave your name, the name of the deceased and a contact phone number and your call will be returned when the office reopens.
When should I light a candle?
One can either light the candle immediately or upon returning from the funeral. The candle should remain lit for the duration of the shiva, either by using a seven-day candle or shorter candles that are replaced when necessary. We can provide our members with a candle, together with books and chairs (see below).
When not with the candle, please ensure it is left in a safe manner.
What happens at a Jewish funeral (levaya)?
Before the service begins, the mourners traditionally tear a significant item of clothing (keriyah) such as a shirt, top or jumper as well as reciting a blessing that reaffirms our faith in God. This is also a chance for a few close family to spend some time together and gather their thoughts before all other attendees enter the hall for the service itself.
The rabbi will lead an introductory paragraph and say the formal passages known as tziduk hadin in a mixture of Hebrew and English, following which a member of the family and/or the rabbi will speak about the deceased, known as a hesped.
On certain festive days of the Jewish calendar, the service is altered slightly and a short psalm (16) is said. A full hesped is not given, but some parting words of lighter tone (divrei preidah) are often offered.
After this, everyone proceeds to the burial on the grounds. The service leader will recite a blessing at the entrance to the grounds. Once the coffin is lowered by the ground staff, the family, followed by all those present may help fill the grave.
Following this, the service continues at the prayer halls, with a psalm, memorial prayer and kaddish. Many times, a slightly different kaddish is recited by children of the deceased at this time (see below).
What is Kaddish and can it be said by anyone? What if I can’t read Hebrew?
Kaddish is a traditional Jewish prayer, said in the presence of a minyan, declaring to all present our wish to see the greatness and benevolence of the Almighty recognised by all. Each human contains a spark of godliness and with the departure of a soul from this world, we try to fill that void with a public declaration that brings the presence of the God into this world.
A translation and transliteration of the regular mourner’s kaddish can be found here.
At the end of the funeral, on certain days, a slightly different kaddish is recited by children of the deceased. A translation and transliteration of this kaddish can be found here. Please check with your rabbi whether this kaddish should be recited.
What is a shiva and can the Shul help me organise one?
A shiva (literally meaning seven) is the initial period of mourning that follows burial. It starts at the conclusion of the burial service and ends on the morning of the seventh day after that. Someone sitting shiva traditionally stays at home during this time and is visited and supported by members of the local community, family and friends.
Many people have evening prayers in their home for some or all nights of the shiva. If you are sitting shiva in the Pinner area, we can provide you with low chairs (which are traditionally used by mourners) and prayer books, and we will try to organise someone to lead the service, if you would like. If the shiva is further away, we will try our best to support where we can and/or liaise with your local community regarding shiva prayers.