Death & Mourning

Learn everything you need to know about Jewish mourning rituals.

Have you just experienced a loss of a loved one?

The Jewish rituals around death focus on treating the dead with respect and on comforting the mourners. 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 Jewish mourning rituals may help provide you with support during the grieving process.

Jewish Mourning Rituals: An Overview

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.

A Jewish Guide to Helping Your Friend in Mourning

Shiva is a word people use to explain the week-long mourning period in Judaism. When friends and loved ones lose someone, it can be hard to know how to support them. This video on the Jewish practice of Shiva helps explain about the specific mourning practices in Judaism, and what your friend needs from you.

Jewish Mourning Rituals: The Funeral

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

What is the Kaddish?

By Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

The Kaddish is a Jewish prayer full of praise that is recited during Jewish prayer services and associated with death and mourning. Learn more about the meaning behind the prayer with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg.

While to many Jews, the Kaddish is known primarily as the prayer recited at funerals, that wasn’t always the case. Back in the day, after a rabbinic lecture, the rabbinic would freestyle some words in Aramaic. These words would later become standard and recited after any teaching of Torah. In the 7th century, it became standard to teach Torah at every person’s funeral and when you teach Torah you say the words of Kaddish afterwards.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Burial vs Cremation

In Judaism, ground burial is generally accepted as the only way to respect someone after they die. However, more and more people both within and without Judaism are choosing cremation. This video takes a look at some of the ways to address this issue and how each of us can make the choice that’s right for them.

For more resources on Jewish mourning practices, check out our other videos.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Death

By Laura Fitch and Alana Kadden Ballon

It’s never easy to tell your child when a loved one has died. Watch this video to get some advice on how to talk to your kids about death featuring chaplain Laura Fitch and parent, Alana Kadden Ballon.

Below are some of the advice Laura and Alana share:

  • Use simple, clear words
  • Find a supportive team for yourself
  • Make time for yourself to process
  • Create a space to share emotions and feelings
  • Tell you child what to expect
  • Talk about funeral and rituals
  • Help your child remember and honor the loved one


If you’re looking for more resources about Jewish mourning rituals, check out our other videos here.

Learn How to Say the Mourner’s Kaddish

Learn to say the Mourner’s Kaddish – Jewish Prayer of Mourning – with this simple karaoke style video that combines the original Aramaic, a simple transliteration and the English translation. The Kaddish is in Aramaic, not Hebrew, except for the last sentence.

Weaving Memory

Weaving memory can be one way to deal with grief and loss. In this video Rabbi Janet Madden teaches us a technique for weaving memories together, using simple supplies. This craft activity can give you the time and space to remember your loved one and knit together your feelings again.

This video is taught in the Jewish tradition but of course it’s a wonderful craft for anyone.

Supplies needed:
Cardboard loom (DIY or buy at craft store)
Cotton string for the warp
A selection of yarns and ribbon to weave with
A yarn needle, if you choose to stitch in and hide loose ends

The Man Who Buried His Own Leg

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.


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