"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." -Book of Ecclesiastes

The Jewish tradition brings great wisdom to the experience of death and loss. By experiencing the loss of a beloved family member within the framework of Jewish ritual, significant meaning and value can be found in this most difficult and painful transition in human life. We are here for you.

Rabbi Cotlar wants to assure his availability to the community during times of loss. Therefore, after a loved one has passed away, contact us first, so that we are able to properly respond to your needs. We are available for counseling (both before and after death), for support in your time of need, and of course, we will always work with you to be available to officiate at a funeral. So that we may best serve you, please be sure to speak with us before you confirm the time and date of the funeral.

Once a date and time is determined, we will be able to schedule a time where you and/or other family members can come in and meet with Rabbi Cotlar for counseling, preparation for the funeral service, and to determine the ways to best honor the dearly departed. Following the funeral, the Rabbi will also be available to guide you through the mourning process including the observance of Shiva – traditional mourning services in the home of surviving family members.

Jewish Death and Mourning Customs

To live is to die. To love is to know the pain of losing those we love. Nothing can truly prepare us for death; the purpose of this guide is to give an overview of the Jewish laws and customs as they are practiced at Chabad of Cary; if you have any questions about anything in this guide, please be in touch with Rabbi Cotlar at [email protected].

From Death to Burial

The Jewish tradition emphasizes burying the deceased as soon as possible after death. Funerals can be at the graveside or at a funeral home. Most funeral homes are familiar with Jewish mourning rituals; Chabad of Cary has a long-standing relationship with Brown Wynne Funeral Home (919-612-6282) and Bryan Lee Funeral Home (919) 832-8225

Washing and Guarding

In the Jewish tradition, the deceased are accompanied from the time of death until burial by shomrim, who read Psalms or other appropriate texts in a room adjacent to the deceased, in order to cultivate an attitude of respect, compassion and focus. The mitzvah of shmira, or accompaniment, can be performed by anyone who wishes to honor the deceased.

Taharah is the practice of lovingly washing and preparing the body of the deceased for burial. This very ancient and important mitzvah is performed by members of the Chevra Kadisha, or burial society, who have been trained for this purpose. After washing, the chevra dresses the deceased in traditional Jewish burial garments and places the deceased in a plain wooden casket.

The purpose of these rituals is to provide kavod hameit, honor to the dead, and nichum aveilim, comfort to the mourners. The Jewish tradition does not support embalming or cremating the dead; rather, we return to the earth from which we came.

There are no set fees for these services, but it is customary to donate to the synagogue to support these efforts. The suggested donation is $500. No member of Chabad of Cary is ever denied these or other funeral services for financial reasons.


If you would like for Rabbi Cotlar to officiate at the funeral, please be in touch with him (832-293-3565) and then the funeral home of your choosing to set the time for the funeral. There is no formal fee for Rabbi Cotlar to officiate at a funeral for a member of Chabad of Cary or their immediate family; however it is customary to make a voluntary contribution of $1000 to the Chabad of Cary

While the preference is for burial to be as soon possible, there are circumstances in which a delay is appropriate, particularly if close family members need to make travel arrangements. A delay of more than three days is very unusual and should be avoided

Once the date and time have been set, you should then talk with Rabbi Cotlar about the eulogy and who should speak at the funeral. In general, the practice at Chabad of Cary is for eulogies to be given by people who actually knew the deceased, which is not always our clergy. Any feelings you have about who should or should not speak at the funeral should be communicated clearly to our clergy. When you speak with them, it will be useful to have the following information about your loved one: Their date and place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, membership in organizations, military service or noteworthy achievements and a list of survivors in the immediate family.

When a member of our synagogue is in mourning, the general practice at Chabad of Cary is to send an email to the congregation announcing the death and sharing funeral and shiva information as appropriate. If you would like to do something other than that, please be sure to let Rabbi Cotlar know.

Jewish burial and mourning practices are deliberately simple. By very strong and ancient tradition, Jews are (2) buried in simple, unadorned pine wood caskets. Occasionally, members are honored by having geniza, or holy, documents buried with them. If you would like for your loved one to be honored in this way, please let our clergy know.

If you have suffered a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss, the clergy of Chabad of Cary are available to support you in honoring this loss via counseling, ritual, prayer, or burial and connecting you to additional resources.

Funeral & Burial


A few minutes before the community formally gathers for the funeral, our clergy will gather the family together for kriah, which is the tearing of a garment or ribbon, as a symbol of grief and mourning. Mourners stand, and before the cut is made, say the words of Job, "The Lord has given and the Lord has taken, blessed be the Name of the Lord."

The funeral service itself is brief, and the hesped, or eulogy, is at the center. The funeral generally concludes with El maleh rahamim, which expresses our hope for the immortal soul of the departed.


At the graveside, the service consists of recitation of tziduk ha-din, a prayer which expresses our acceptance of the unvarying flow of life towards death, followed by the recitation of kaddish and el maleh rachamim.

After the aron is fully lowered into the ground, friends and loved ones shovel earth into the grave to begin the burial. The mourners are not obliged to complete the burial and neither is there any rush. All who wish to bury the deceased should be given the chance to do so. The first shovelful of dirt is done with the back of the shovel to indicate that this is not a chore, but an act of kindness. If there are young children who should take part in this act of kindness, a small pail of dirt and a spade can be made available.

After the burial, everyone other than the mourners form two lines to let the mourners pass between them. As the mourners pass through those lines, their friends and family say these traditional words of comfort to them:

Payment: $750-$1000 can be sent here.

Plots at Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery

Howard Margulies 919-614-2153 OR  Barbara 919-782-1892

Funeral Home Brown Wynne Funeral Home  919-612-6282 OR Bryan Lee Funeral Home

Local Chevra Kaddisha - made up of volunteers from all local synagogues.


המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Ha-makom yinakhem et-khem betokh she-ar aveilei tziyon veyerushalayim, May The Ever-present One comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem