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Jewish Mourning Traditions

When a member of your community passes away, it’s a difficult but important time to be present. Judaism has many rituals designed to bring the community together as support for mourners who need time to grieve.

It can be hard to know how to support a grieving friend. Watch this short video to learn about some specifics of the seven day shiva mourning practice in Judaism, and what your friend might need from you.


The word for funeral in Judaism is levaya, which means accompanying. To accompany a person to their final resting place is an act of love and kindness for both the deceased and their family and this video explains a few of the Jewish practices to expect.


In Judaism, traditions around death have two purposes – to comfort the living, and to show respect for the dead. Understanding some of the more nuanced Jewish traditions and rituals for caring for a body before the funeral may help provide some support in a grieving process.


The death of a loved one is a very disorienting time, and isn’t something many people think about until it’s actually happening to them. Understanding some of the traditions and the structured periods of mourning that Judaism offers may help provide some support in the grieving process.


What would drive a man to bury his own amputated leg? Jewish paranoia, of course. Find out about what’s possibly the weirdest religious custom ever in three minutes of animated narashkeit.


The Jewish Mourner’s Prayer has been an important part of Jewish mourning rituals for centuries, and continues to be used in remembrance services today. This short video walks you through the prayer and lets you follow along.


When Jana’s father passed away, she was worried that her connection to Judaism and spirituality would disappear. Instead, the traditions of shiva, the traditional seven day period of Jewish mourning, brought her that much closer.


This soulful reflection of Psalm 23 was written, performed & recorded by Ariel Root Wolpe and Mariangela Mihai.


Psalm 90 is so often invoked in conversations of death and dying. This heartwrenching interpretation of the psalm, written & performed by Rachel Lopez Rosenberg, talks about cancer treatments.


Chai was going through a difficult time trying to have a child, and as a rabbi, she knew that the Jewish ritual tradition didn’t have anything built in to support her through pregnancy loss. With a friend, she created a funeral service to mark and honor the moment. It helped her not only feel held by her community but also to see herself as part of Jewish history.


When Susan’s husband, Morton, passed away, a group at her synagogue stepped up and offered support during an incredibly difficult time. People from the Jewish community gathered together, read his poetry – his prayers – as they all remembered him together. It was a beautiful, nontraditional farewell.


Lifecycles Home

For additional resources about mourning rituals, check out our partners:


Koret Foundation

The Lifecycles Project was made possible with generous support from the Koret Foundation, as part of their Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.

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