Below please find a glossary of terms you may encounter during a Jewish funeral or gathering.

Aron (ah-ron)

Traditional Jewish casket – all wood crafted, unlined and containing no metal. Created to return to the earth.

Immediate mourners

Immediate mourners refer to spouse, parents, children, or siblings of the deceased


Burial in a grave

Kevurah (ke-voo-rah)

Hebrew name for burial

Kriah (kree-ah)

The tearing of clothing by the immediate mourner as an expression of grief

Kriah (kree-ah) Ribbon

A black ribbon worn by immediate mourners to symbolize grief

Levayah (le-vay-ya)

Hebrew name for funeral

Mikvah (mick-vah)

Ritual bath used for washing the deceased during tahara


A group of ten Jewish men, or men and women, required for public prayer

Seudat Havra’ah (su-dat hav-ra-ah)

The first meal upon returning from the cemetery, the meal of consolation traditionally includes round foods representing the cycle of life.

Sheblach (sheb-lock)

Following the tahara, the deceased’s eyes and mouth are covered with the sheblach, pieces of clay pottery, to maintain purity. It allows for a “see no evil, speak no evil” helping to return a clean body and soul back to the earth.

Shiva (sh-va)

The 7-day mourning period directly following the burial. There are certain holidays and times throughout the year that end the shiva period prior to the 7 days

Shiva candle

The candle one lights upon returning from the cemetery, which burns for 7 days (the duration of the shiva period)

Shomer (show-mer)

“Watcher” – someone who guards the body until burial. The act of watching is called “shemirah.”

Shroud (shr-owd)

Simple, full clothing garment made of muslin or linen containing no pockets or zippers

Tahara (tah-hah-rah)

Ritual washing and preparation of the deceased to prepare for burial and ensure Jewish traditions. Men perform tahara for men and women for women.

Yahrzeit (yar-tz-ite)

The anniversary of one’s passing according to the Hebrew calendar

Yizkor (yis-ker)

A memorial service and prayer recited four times a year for deceased loved ones – the anniversary of a death, the eve of Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre), the night of Shemini Atzeret (the 8th night of Sukkot), the last night of Passover, and the second night of Shavuot.


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