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Funerals and Mourning

There is perhaps no time when the support of a rabbi and a religious community can be more important in a person’s life than at a time of mourning. For this reason, the death of a loved one is an occasion when a member of the shul is available to help members at any time of the day or night.

Should you need immediate assistance when a loved one dies, you may immediately telephone the synagogue for assistance. During office hours, speak to Ilana Alroy, the office manager. After hours, phone Guardian and former chairman Simon Hochschild at 082-0462-795 for assistance. The shul will assist in making arrangements on your behalf with the Chevra Kadesha, the Jewish Burial Society, which represents  all Jewish communities, including Progressives.  Progressive Jews have the same rights of access to the West Park cemetery facilities as other Jews, including use of the ohel by our rabbis and our own section of the grounds. A typical fee charged by the Chevra Kadesah for a funeral is R22 000. Beit Emanuel itself provides the rabbi’s service free of charge to members. Beit Emanuel will also perform funeral services for non-members (see schedule of rates for these services). Progressive funerals differ from Orthodox in that women are permitted to be pall-bearers, to read the Kaddish and to place soil inside the grave.


[notice] For a more extensive guide to funerals, mourning procedures, legalities and the Chevra Kadisha, see also When Someone Dies [/notice]



Progressive Judaism permits cremations, which some people prefer because the process is friendlier to the environment. Cremations do not go through the Chevra Kadesha, and are less expensive. Beit Emanuel will perform memorial services for those who opt for cremations, and also for those who donate their bodies to science as a service to society. Memorial services may be held in either the Slome Hall or the main synagogue, depending on the size of the expected crowd. The shul can also assist with the erection of memorial plaques on the Wall of Remembrance at West Park.

Other services provided by the synagogue include:

  • Memorial services at the home of the mourners. An evening service is traditionally held at the home of the mourners, usually in the evening after the funeral service. This often includes tributes from members of the family or friends. An experienced member of the Beit Emanuel community, usually a former chairperson, officiates.
  • Unveiling of the tombstone. This ceremony is usually held at eleven months after the death, but can be held earlier should circumstances (eg relatives living abroad) require.
  • Yahrzeits. Those commemorating a yarzheit (the anniversary of a death, according to the Jewish calendar) may choose to hold a memorial service at the shul on the Wednesday afternoon when they may say Kaddish in the presence of friends and family.



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What to do when someone dies

A Jewish Guide to Funerals and Mourning Customs This guide to practical aspects of funeral arrangement and the rituals of mourning was compiled by former rabbis some years ago, but remains a useful overview   Introduction When someone close to us dies it is normal for us to experience heightened emotions and stress. At such …