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How to Plan a Jewish Unveiling Ceremony

Many religions have different customs and rites that take place after someone passes away. If you’ve never planned and held your own unveiling ceremony, this task can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Additionally, if you’re not part of that religion, you may feel awkward or uncomfortable attending one of these events, especially if you have no idea what takes place; knowing what to expect can help you feel less anxious and more prepared! Here’s what to expect if you attend a Jewish unveiling ceremony.

What is a Jewish unveiling ceremony?

A Jewish unveiling ceremony is a Jewish funeral custom that takes place within the first year after a loved one passes away. Family and other mourners will gather where the deceased was buried and take place in the unveiling.

During the unveiling ceremony, the grave marker is installed and there is a formal dedication of the monument or gravestone. Prayers are typically read, a eulogy is read, and the Kaddish is recited as well. The cloth that’s covering the gravestone or monument is removed, which is where the ceremony gets its name.

After the cloth is removed from the gravestone and it’s unveiled, it’s customary for attendees to then place stones or different types of pebbles on the gravestone.

Unveiling ceremonies can be personalized to the person who passed away while incorporating traditional elements.

What prayers are said at a Jewish unveiling service?

The exact prayers and readings that are recited at an unveiling ceremony will differ, but some prayers that are typically read include:

Psalm 23
Psalm 121
El Malei Rachamim
We Remember Them
The Mourner’s Kaddish

When does the Jewish unveiling service take place?

The Jewish unveiling ceremony typically takes place within a year of someone passing away.

Who usually goes to the Jewish unveiling service?

A Jewish unveiling service is typically smaller than a funeral and generally involves those who were close to the deceased, such as family members. At the same time, family members can invite others they feel should be in attendance; the event is not restricted to only family members.

Can I lead an unveiling ceremony?

Typically, unveiling ceremonies are officiated and lead by rabbis. Though this is traditionally the way unveiling ceremonies are done, there is no requirement that it be led by a rabbi. Anyone can lead an unveiling service, even if they are not a rabbi.

Unveiling ceremony ideas

While unveiling ceremonies are a traditional part of Jewish funeral rites, they are also able to be personalized. To personalize the unveiling ceremony, consider incorporating your loved one’s personality and passions into the service itself. This could include:

  • Choosing passages or prayers that were especially meaningful or important to the person who passed away
  • Including readings or songs that were important to your loved one
  • Hosting an “after party” that follows the unveiling ceremony to share stories or memories about the person who passed away
  • Asking attendees to personalize or decorate the stones they plan to leave on the gravestone

What to wear to an unveiling of a tombstone

The attire for an unveiling ceremony will differ, depending on the atmosphere of the event you’re planning on holding. By default, most will generally wear more somber attire and clothes that reflect clothes typically worn to a funeral. This includes darker colors and professional clothing. If you’d like to hold a ceremony that’s more lighthearted or casual, it’s a good idea to let attendees know this ahead of time either by setting up a memorial website and notifying them or by letting them know as you send out invitations. To make the event unique, you could ask attendees to wear certain types of clothing or articles of clothing that feel personalized to the person who passed away (perhaps by suggesting they wear your loved one’s favorite color, for example).

If you’re holding an unveiling ceremony, creating a memorial website is an excellent way to keep attendees informed and connected while you plan your event. Memorial websites give you a place to keep track of RSVPs, keep in touch with those attending (and those not), and is a space for you to provide event information to those searching for it.

Start a memorial website

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Last updated July 23, 2021
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