Introduction to Death and Mourning
Introduction to Death and Mourning
When we hear of a death, we say Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet to acknowledge that even though we are unhappy about a person's dying, we recognize that it is part of God's operation of the world.
Close to Death
Changing Sick Person's Name
Changing Sick Person's Hebrew Name
When a person is very ill and is younger than expected to have a deadly illness, the person may change his or her Hebrew name.
  • If he or she lives (in health, such as able to walk around outside) for at least 30 days after changing his or her name, the person should keep that name (and if the person dies, that changed name should go on the tombstone).
  • If the person dies in less than 30 days, the person's original name reverts to being the valid name.
A very sick person who might die soon should say a special confession (vidui). It is not a problem to say it multiple times during one's life.
Note If the person cannot say vidui, someone else says it for the person.
Preparation of Body
Chevra Kadisha
Chevra Kadisha for Males and Females
There is a “holy society” (chevra kadisha) for males and a separate one for females.
Cleaning before Tahara
Any blood should be wiped up and the cloth should be buried with the body.
Wet Cloth and Soap
The body is cleaned with a wet cloth and soap (if necessary).
No Tahara
A dead body that bleeds a lot, such as after being shot or in a car crash, does not get purification (tahara) by water.
Three Buckets of Water
A ritual purification is performed (“tahara”) by pouring three buckets of water over the body:
The body is stood up and water is poured from the head over the body. The subsequent buckets are poured before the previous ones are empty, so that the water from the subsequent bucket overlaps the water from the previous one.
Certain lines from the Torah (psukim) are said during the purification.
Shrouds, Hat, Robe
The body—whether male or female--is wrapped in shrouds: shirt, pants, socks (or long pants with the feet sewn up), hat (women who covered their hair while alive get two hats), and robe (kittel) on top of all. The hat covers the face.
An adult male is wrapped in a talit but one of the tzitziyot is made invalid/pasul.
Child's Dressing
A child under bar mitzva or bat mitzva age also gets dressed the same way as an adult, except if less than 7 years old (consult a rabbi in that case).
Egg and Wine for Face of Dead Person
Some people have the custom of putting egg and wine on the face of a dead person, but this is not halacha.
Arms on Sides, Hands Open
The body is placed lying on its back, with arms on the sides and hands open. 
Note on Christian Hospitals
In many Christian hospitals, as soon as a person dies, the arms are put in the shape of a cross.  After rigor mortis, it is very difficult to move the arms, so if the arms were crossed, they should be uncrossed as soon as possible.
Feet First
The body is removed from the building feet first. (This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.)
In the Presence of the Body
Lighted Candle Near Head of Dead Person
It is customary to place a lighted candle near the head of a dead person.
Put Dead Body on Floor
It is customary to put a dead body on the floor, if possible.
Shomer To Honor Dead Person
A “watcher” (shomer) should stay with a dead body at all times until the burial, if possible, to honor the dead person. The watcher should be close enough to be able to see the body. A non-Jew may be a watcher, but only b'di'avad.
Note If the body is being shipped somewhere, it is preferable that a shomer stay with the body, but it is not required.
Shomer for Several Days
When a person dies on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, a watcher (shomer) should still be present until burial, even if there will be a delay of several days.
Woman Shomeret
A woman may be a watcher (shomeret) for a dead person.
Note Either gender may watch the other, but the custom is to have the same gender where possible.
Eating in Room with Body
Don't eat in a room in which there is a dead body.
From Funeral Home to Cemetery
Offspring at Funeral

Attending a funeral is a mitzva--that of honoring the dead person--but in attending a parent's funeral, there is the added mitzva of honoring a parent.

Adult (at least bar mitzva or bat mitzva) offspring should attend their parent's funeral, unless there is a financial, health, or other significant reason not to attend. There is no requirement for minor offspring to attend a funeral for a parent. RMH recommends consulting a rabbi before having a minor go to any funeral, including for the child's parent.

NoteIf both parents are still alive, it is not customary to go to the cemetery for any funeral except for a close relative, but it is a mitzva to attend the eulogies and ceremony beforehand.

Accompanying the Body: Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, charedim do not allow sons of a dead father to attend their father's funeral (from the funeral home to the cemetery).
Burial: Where
Burial: Jewish Cemetery
Jews Buried with Jews
Jews should be buried with Jews. It is permitted to disinter a body from a non-Jewish cemetery for reburial into a Jewish cemetery.
Non-Jew Not Buried in Jewish Cemetery
A non-Jew (including a non-Jewish spouse of a Jew) may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Someone who commits suicide may not be buried within 8 amot of other Jews in a Jewish cemetery. If the person had emotional problems, consult a rabbi.

Burial: Eretz Yisrael
Burial: Eretz Yisrael If Did Not Live There
You should not be buried in Eretz Yisrael if you could have lived in Eretz Yisrael but chose not to. If you could not live there or if you had a heter to not live there, it is OK to be buried there.
Note The reason to be buried in Eretz Yisrael is for Resurrection of the Dead (techiyat ha'meitim), which will only happen in Eretz Yisrael.  But the entire world will eventually become Eretz Yisrael, so it is only an issue of time.
Burial: Near Offspring
Children Visiting Cemetery
It is considered comforting to the parent's soul for children to visit the cemetery.  So proximity to children may be a factor in choosing where to be buried (but who knows where offspring will end up living?).
Burial: When
Same-Day or Delayed Burial
A body should be buried the same day as death occurs or as soon as possible afterward, but the burial may be delayed to allow relatives to arrive or for a body to be taken to Eretz Yisrael for burial.
Burial: Coffin
Coffin Material
The coffin should be plain wood (usually pine) without any adornments or fancy features.  It has holes in it.
Burial: Specifics
The pall-bearers usually pause seven times on their walk to the grave.  On days when no tachanun is said, they walk directly to the grave without pausing.
Who Shovels
It is a mitzva but not a requirement for attendees to shovel some earth into the grave. Women should only do this if no men are present.
How To Shovel
Do not hand the shovel from person to person. Rather, stick the shovel in the ground.  The next person takes it out, shovels some dirt, and sticks it back in the ground.
Depth of Coffin
The coffin should be buried with at least 12 inches of dirt above it.
Burial: Kaddish
Burial: Kaddish: Version of Kaddish

Kaddish is recited near the grave but at least 4 amot (7 feet) away from the nearest grave:  

  • If the son of the dead person is present and the burial occurred on a day when tachanun is normally said, the version of kaddish recited is the same as for a siyum (celebration of completing studying part of mishnayot or other holy books).
  • If there is no son of the dead person present or if it is not a day when tachanun is said, then the version of kaddish recited is the normal mourner's kaddish.
Burial: Kaddish: Having Minyan
It is important, but not critical, to have a minyan at the gravesite so the mourner will be able to say kaddish.
Burial: Kaddish: Attending Minyan
It is a mitzva to attend the minyan at a burial, but no one needs to interrupt his day in order to do so.
Burial: Leaving
Walking between Rows
All non-mourners stand in two rows on the way back from the grave.  The mourners walk between the rows and are greeted with this phrase:
 Ha'makom yinachem etchem b'toch she'ar aveilei tzion v'yerushalayim.
Then, the mourners remove any shoes which contain leather from their feet before walking between the rows of people. (Take other non-leather shoes to the cemetery so they can switch into them after the burial).
Stepping on Graves
For rules on how to treat graves, see Graves: Stepping on.
"Three-Times" Hand Washing
After leaving the cemetery, wash hands using the Three-Times Method without a blessing; see How To Wash Hands Using the Three-Times Method. You can take a container of water with you in your car.
Introduction to Mourning
Introduction to Mourning

Who Is a Mourner

A mourner is defined in halacha as someone mourning during the 12-month mourning period for parents or the 30-day mourning period for the other five relatives (spouse, brother, sister, son, daughter). After 30 days, one is no longer a mourner for anyone but one's parents.

Mourners' Restrictions

If the mourner goes about business as usual, it may show he or she doesn't care about the close relative who died. The mourner should ideally not want to do these things. The mourner honors the dead person by refraining from pampering him/herself and refraining from going about his or her life as usual.

Public Meals

A mourner may not attend a public meal for any purpose. For example, if the mourner attends a lecture or Torah class at which food is being served, he or she may not eat the food. This only applies to sit-down meals; snacking is permitted.

Siyum/Brit/Bar Mitzva

After 30 days after a parent's burial, a mourner may:

  • Attend a siyum or bar mitzva and eat there.
  • Attend a brit but not eat there.
Note If there is music (live or recorded), the mourner must leave.


A mourner may not eat at a wedding and may not even be in the wedding hall after the ceremony took. The mourner may also not hear the music at a wedding.

  • If the mourner is the parent of someone getting married, the mourner can fully participate in the wedding.
  • If the mourner is the bride or groom, he or she must normally wait to get married until after shloshim/30 days.
Note If it is after shiva, but still during shloshim, consult a rabbi.

Kiddush and Shabbat or Festival Meals

A mourner may not publicly (noticeably) mourn on Shabbat or festivals so he or she may attend Shabbat or festival meals and kiddushes if he or she would be expected to attend. If the mourner always or routinely invites some person or a lot of different people on Shabbat or festivals, it is still permitted. If the mourner does not routinely invite some person or a lot of different people to a Shabbat or festival meal, then he or she may not, for his or her own enjoyment, invite guests for meals. However, the mourner is permitted to do so for other purposes (for the benefit of the invited person or people), such as kiruv or hachnasat orchim. There is no limit to how many guests the mourner may host.

The mourner may attend or host a sheva brachot in his/her home.

A mourner should not be invited to meals, even for Shabbat or festivals; but if he/she was invited, he/she may go.


A mourner does eat at a Purim or Jewish festival seuda, since there is no mourning on Purim nor on any festival (except Chanuka).

Mourning: Who Must Mourn
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: Seven Categories
There are seven categories of relatives for whom mourning is required: father; mother; spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: Before Burial/Onen
From the time of death until burial, the seven relatives are called onen (onenim). One is only an onen if he or she will participate in the funeral or make decisions related to the funeral. This could be even if you will be involved only in deciding who will speak at the hesped. If someone is completely uninvolved in the funeral arrangements, one is an aveil.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: No Onenut on Shabbat and Jewish Festivals
One is not an onen whenever a body may not be buried, such as on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, and so there is no onenut on Shabbat or Jewish festivals. An onen says blessings and does mitzvot on those days.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: After Burial/Avel
After burial, any of the seven close relatives are called avel (aveilim).
Mourning: How Long To Mourn
Mourning: How Long To Mourn: Parents or Others
Mourning for parents lasts one year. Mourning for others lasts only 30 days.
Mourning: How To Mourn
Being an Onen
Onen Restrictions
An onen is prohibited from doing positive mitzvot so as not to be distracted from taking care of the dead body.
An onen may not:
  • Do any positive commandment (no blessings, prayers, shema…).
  • Eat meat or drink wine (until after the burial).
  • Work or operate a business.
Note Before the relative dies, if possible, the onen should sell his business for whatever days he or she will be an onen and in shiv'a. Otherwise, the owner may have to close the business until shiv'a is over.
Note If there will be a large financial loss, consult a rabbi.  A large loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss. Consult a rabbi for how much constitutes a large loss.
Onen Traveling with Body
An onen who accompanies a body to a foreign country for burial may have two extra days (or more) of onenut. If the onen then returns home and joins other mourners in the shiv'a house, the onen may end shiv'a with the other family members. (For more details, see When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Normal Days .)
Being an Onen: Saying Kaddish
Some communities have the custom of an onen's saying kaddish.
NOTE When a person's parent dies on or just before (erev) Shabbat or a Jewish festival, a daughter of any age should not be told until after Shabbat or the festival is over. A son should only be told if he is 6 years old and above and the custom in that community is to say kaddish as an onen.
Kri'a: Tearing the Clothes
Kri'a: Who Tears
Children and Kri'a
When a parent has died, the children must tear “kr'ia,” that is, tearing any garments that they wear during shiv'a.
Women and Kri'a
Women do kri'a. To avoid exposing her body when tearing, a woman may wait until she is in a private place.  After tearing, she might need to pin the torn area closed for tzni'ut (modest attire).
Kri'a: On What To Tear
What To Tear for Kri'a
When tearing kri'a, do not tear underwear, a coat or sweater worn for warmth, or talit katan. To avoid ruining good or expensive clothing, you may change to other clothes before doing kri'a.
You may tear the same garment more than once if you need to do kriya for more than one dead person or for seeing the Temple mount more than once (in more than 30 days).
Kri'a: When To Tear
Tear at News or Funeral Home
Do the tearing/kri'a when you hear the news of a death. If not, tear at the funeral home before the funeral.
Kri'a: How To Tear
How To Tear Kri'a
If you are in mourning for a parent, whether you are a man or woman, tear a vertical tear 4 inches (10.2 cm) long on your outermost garments (shirt and jacket, if you wear one) at the neck on the left side. The bulk of the tear must be made by hand, not with scissors or a knife, although you may start the tear with a sharp implement.
Kri'a: How Often To Tear
Kri'a: How Often for a Parent
When mourning for a parent, you must tear kri'a throughout the shiv'a week whenever you change shirts, so it is best to change garments as little as possible! You must wear the torn garment during the entire week of shiv'a. Coats do not require kri'a.
Note Wearing a torn black ribbon pinned to a garment does not fulfill the requirement of kri'a.
Kri'a: How Often for Non-Parents
When mourning for any of the five categories of people other than parents (spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister), tear only one time and only the outermost garment (but not coats) and tear on the right side.
Shiv'a: Purpose
Shiv'a: Purpose
The purpose of shiv'a is to honor the dead person and the mourners.
Shiv'a (and Shloshim): Timing
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Normal Days
Shiv'a (and shloshim) starts for a mourner who:
  • Attends funeral:  After the burial.
  • Will not attend funeral and is a(n):
    • Non-Onen:  Immediately upon hearing news of the death.
    • Onen:  As soon as the onen has nothing (more) to do with the funeral.
Note Family members may observe shiv'a at different starting and ending times. 
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Jewish Festivals
For someone who dies during Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, or any of the three Jewish festivals, the mourning period does not start until after the holiday has ended.
How Long Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Lasts
Duration of Shiv'a (and Shloshim)
Shiv'a lasts seven days. Shloshim lasts 30 days, beginning with Day 1 of shiv'a. There may be some exceptions if shiv'a occurs before or during festivals.   
Note Any part of the first day is considered to be one full day. On the final day after shacharit, the mourners finish shiv'a, so shiv'a can actually last as little as 5 ½ calendar days.
When Shiv’a Resumes
When Shiv'a Resumes: Shabbat
Shiv'a that is interrupted by Shabbat resumes Sunday morning.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Jewish Festival
Shiv'a that is interrupted by a Jewish festival does not resume after being interrupted.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Purim
Shiva is interrupted for Purim and resumes (except on shiv'a's 7th day) after Purim (or, in Jerusalem, after Shushan Purim).
When Shiv'a Resumes: Chanuka
Shiva is not interrupted for Chanuka.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Rosh Chodesh
Shiva is not interrupted for Rosh Chodesh.
When Shiv'a Ends
When Shiv'a Ends: Onen
An onen ends shiv'a (and shloshim) with the household head ("gadol ha'bayit"--whoever controls the money in that household)—even if the household head begins shiv'a before burial and the onen joins the shiv'a house after burial.
When Shiv'a Ends: Non-Onen Who Finds Out Later
If you do not hear about someone's death for 30 days after the person died, observe just one day of shiv'a. If you hear in less than 30 days, observe the regular seven-day shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Location
Ideal Location of Shiv'a
The ideal place to sit shiv'a is the home of the dead person, but any practical location is permitted.
Shiv'a in Several Locations
There may be more than one shiv'a house for one dead person. There is no requirement for people to all join for one shiv'a house, especially if the mourners live in different cities.
Shiv'a: Leaving the House
Mourners' Leaving the Shiv'a House
Mourners should not leave the shiv'a house even if they do not have a minyan there.
Note There are some exceptions for extreme conditions, including medical reasons. A rabbi should be consulted.
Shiv'a and Going Elsewhere To Sleep
If there is not enough space for all of the mourners to sleep in the shiv'a house, they may go elsewhere to sleep at night.
Shiv'a: Minyan
Reason for Shiv'a House Minyan
The main reason for a shiv'a house minyan is to allow the male mourners to pray with a minyan and say kaddish, since they may not leave the house.
Shiv'a: Furnishings
Shiv'a: Furnishings: Seat Height
 Mourners during shiv'a do not sit on normal chairs. Any seat should be less than 12 inches high.
Shiv'a: Furnishings: Mirrors
Cover all mirrors after the funeral in the house of mourning (shiv'a house). This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Shiv'a: Furnishing: Candle
Have a candle burn for seven days in the shiv'a house.
Shiv'a: Meals
First Shiv'a Meal
First Shiv'a Meal: Bread and Egg
The first meal should be bread and a hard-boiled egg. After that meal, any foods may be eaten, including meat and wine.
First Shiv'a Meal: Prepared by Others
The mourners do not eat their own food for the first meal after the burial, so other people bring prepared food to the shiv'a house.
Bringing Food to Shiv'a House
Bringing Food to Shiv'a House
Bringing food to a shiv'a house is a non-binding custom, not a halacha. Some people have the custom for all seven days.
Shiv'a: Daily Life
Shiv'a: Bathing
Bathing during Shiv'a
An avel should not bathe for pleasure and should only wash hands (to elbows), face (to collarbone), and feet (to the knees). If the avel is sweaty, smelly, or dirty, he or she may wash other body parts as needed.
Shiv'a: Business
Business during Shiv'a
An avel may not work and may not own an operating business during shiv'a.  If a death is imminent, consult a rabbi immediately to arrange a sale of the business.
Shiv'a: Clothing
Clothing during Shiv'a
Mourners may not wear leather shoes for the seven days of shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Driving
Driving during Shiv'a
A mourner who absolutely must go somewhere may drive himself or herself (or be driven by someone else), but the proper observance of shiv'a is to stay home for the week.
Shiv'a: Gifts
Gifts during Shiv'a
A mourner may not give gifts for seven days.
It is not appropriate to give gifts to a mourner for one year if the mourner is mourning for a parent.
Shiv'a: Greeting
Greeting during Shiv'a
A mourner may not greet someone in return but may acknowledge a greeting to him/her and may say “thank you” back. (This restriction ceases if a Jewish festival occurs during shiv'a.)
Shiv'a: Laundry
Laundry during Shiv'a
A mourner may not do laundry nor wear clean clothes for comfort during shiv'a, but if all of the clothes are dirty, they may be washed. If so,
  • Someone else should briefly wear such clothes before the mourner wears them, or
  • The clothes may be thrown on the floor so that they will be considered dirty.
Shiv’a: Make Up
No Make Up for Mourner
A mourner should refrain from wearing make up during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Marital Relations
Marital Relations during Shiv'a
A mourner may not have marital relations and may not touch his or her spouse affectionately during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Shabbat and Public Mourning
Shiv'a: Mourning on Shabbat
A mourner does not mourn publicly on Shabbat.
Shiv'a: Entering Synagogue Friday Night
A mourner enters the synagogue on Friday evening before Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbat (after the main part of Kabbalat Shabbat has finished).
Reason Mizmor shir is the actual starting point of Shabbat.
The congregation stands and, as the mourners walk in, greets the mourners with “HaMakom yenacheim etchem b'toch she'ar aveilei tzion v'yrushalayim.
Women and Public Consolation after Kabbalat Shabbat
It is not the custom for women to get public consolation (nichum aveilim) on Friday night at synagogue.
Shiv'a: Tefilin on First Day
Tefilin: First Day of Shiv'a
Mourners do not wear tefilin on the first day (the day of burial), but do wear them after the first day.
Shiv'a: Torah Study
Torah Study during Shiv'a
A mourner during shiv'a may not study Torah, other than:
  • Laws of mourning (aveilut), and
  • Whatever is permitted to study on Tish'a b'Av.
Note This restriction ceases if a Jewish festival occurs during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Washing, Haircuts, Shaving
Washing, Haircuts, Shaving during Shiv'a
An avel may not wash, shave, or get a haircut during shiv'a (for more details on haircuts, see Haircuts during Shloshim).
Mourner's Kaddish
Kaddish: For Whom To Say
Kaddish for Parents/Exceptions
Mourner's kaddish is only supposed to be said for parents, unless no one else is saying kaddish for the dead person. If both your parents are still alive, you may not say mourner's kaddish for someone else unless you get your parents' permission.
Kaddish for Relatives Other than Parents
If you wish, you may say mourner's kaddish for family members other than parents, especially during shloshim (the first 30 days after burial), since the first 30 days after death are the most difficult for the dead person's soul. 
However, you may say kaddish for anyone even after shloshim ends, if you wish, until the end of 11 months (for a shomer-mitzvot person) or 12 months (for a non-shomer mitzvot person. But in a place where only one person says kaddish, you may not supplant another person who is halachically required to say kaddish.
Kaddish: How Long To Say
Kaddish: How Long To Say: Shomer Shabbat or Not
Kaddish is only said for 11 months for a shomer Shabbat Jew and 12 months for a non-shomer-Shabbat Jew.
Kaddish Timing: Last Day of Kaddish
The last day of kaddish is based on the day he or she was buried.

The final kaddish for a mourner, at the end of 11/12 months, will always be at mincha, regardless of when the dead person died or was buried.

Kaddish: Who Should Say
Kaddish: Who Should Say: Sons Six and Above
All sons age 6 and above are required to say kaddish for a dead parent. For frequency, see Kaddish Frequency: Requirements of Sons.
NOTE Women are not required to say kaddish.
Kaddish: Who Should Say: Women
Women are not required to say kaddish, and it is not customary for them to do so.  But if they want to, it is best if at least one man says kaddish with the woman.
Kaddish: How Often To Say
Kaddish Frequency: Needs of Dead Person
Each dead person needs kaddish to be said for him or her:
  • By at least one person.
    Note If more than one person who was close to the dead person (such as a relative) says kaddish, it is a merit for the soul of the dead person.
  • At least once a day. 
    Note More frequently is commendable, since kaddish relieves a dead person's soul from gehenna.
Kaddish Frequency: Requirements of Sons
Each son age 6 and above is required to say kaddish for his dead parent at least once a day.
Note “Day” here means from dark until the following sunset. If you say kaddish at mincha and the following ma'ariv, you have covered two days.
Saying Kaddish Multiple Times
Even though saying kaddish many times benefits the dead person's soul, there is no need--nor is it the custom--to attend multiple minyans each day in order to say kaddish for a dead person many times.
Kaddish: With Whom To Say
Saying Kaddish in Unison
Ideally, only one mourner should say kaddish, whether mourner's kaddish, rabbis' kaddish, etc. Any kaddish said by more than one mourner should be said in unison.
Thirty Days of Mourning (Shloshim)
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Ends
Shiv'a and Shloshim: Ended by Jewish Festivals
Shiv'a ends if a Jewish festival, Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur intervenes.
Shloshim ends if a Jewish festival, Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur intervenes.
If two of those holidays occur within the first seven days after burial, the first one will break shiv'a and the second one will break shloshim.
Shimini Atseret does not constitute a second day for breaking shiv'a or shloshim (it is considered to be part of Sukkot for this purpose).
Shloshim: Daily Life
Shloshim: Bathing
Bathing during Shloshim
For the first 30 days, a mourner should not bathe for pleasure in hot water and should only wash hands (to elbows), face (to collarbone), and feet (to the knees). If sweaty, smelly, or dirty, he or she may wash other body parts even during shiv'a. Lukewarm water may be used after shiv'a ends.
Shloshim: Clothing
Clothing during Shloshim
Do not wear newly purchased clothing during the first 30 days of mourning (shloshim).  You may wear new clothing from the end of shiv'a if someone else wears them somewhat before you do. 
Note Restrictions on newly purchased clothing end after:
  • the year of mourning for those mourning for parents, and
  • 30 days for those mourning for other relatives.

Shloshim: Haircuts
Haircuts during Shloshim
Do not get a haircut for the first 30 days of mourning. When mourning for parents, a mourner's hair should grow for three months from the last haircut but not for less than 30 days from the time shiv'a began. This applies to men and women, except if the woman needs to cut her hair for immersing in the mikva.
Shloshim: Kiddush
Kiddush Club during Shloshim
A mourner during shloshim (or the rest of the mourner's year) may eat at a kiddush on Shabbat after shacharit if he is expected to be there (for example, if he is a regular member of a “Kiddush Club”) because you may not display mourning in public on Shabbat.
Shloshim: Nail Cutting
Nail Cutting during Shloshim

Do not cut your nails for the first 30 days of mourning.

ExceptionWomen mourners may cut their nails before going to the mikva.

Shloshim: Shaving
Shaving during Shloshim
If you shave regularly (can be every day or a few times each week), you may shave after 30 days but not within 30 even if for non-parent and certainly not for a parent. If you normally grow a beard, you may not shave until 3 months have passed since the last time you trimmed your beard (and as long as it is more than 30 days from the day shiva began for the parent).
In case of a large financial loss, consult a rabbi.
Note A large loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss
Shloshim: Getting Married
Wedding during Shloshim
Do not get married during the first 30 days of mourning, but you may get engaged.
Year of Mourning
Year-of-Mourning: Time Period
Mourner Period When Shiv'a or Shloshim Are Shortened
Someone who is mourning for parents is still a mourner for the entire year even if shiv'a and shloshim are truncated. 
Year-of-Mourning: Practices
Year of Mourning: Marrying
Remarrying after a Wife Dies
If a wife dies, the husband must wait for three Jewish festival holidays to pass before remarrying (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur do not count for this purpose).
Remarrying after a Husband Dies
If a husband dies, the wife may remarry after 92 days have passed.
Year of Mourning: New Clothing
New Clothing during Year of Mourning for Parent
For wearing new clothes during the year of mourning for a parent, see Clothing during Shloshim .
Year of Mourning: Mourners Leading a Minyan
Mourners Leading a Minyan

The dead person benefits if his/her son or sons lead public prayer services, whether during shloshim or the entire year (11 or 12 months). However, if the mourner is uncomfortable leading the minyan or is not a good reader or will be embarrassed, he should not feel obligated to do so.


A mourner does not lead a minyan on:

  • Shabbat;

  • Jewish Festivals (including chol ha'moed);

  • Purim;

  • Rosh Chodesh.

Opinions differ concerning Chanuka, so follow your local custom.

Year of Mourning: Public Festivities
Public Festivities for Mourner for Parent

A mourner may not generally enter a hall of joyous celebration and may not eat at any public meal. During the year of mourning for parents, you may not join any public festivities (even if it is not a simcha) that have a meal, including any meals celebrating a mitzva (se'udat mitzva) such as for a brit mila, wedding, or redemption of a son (pidyon ha'ben). After 30 days, you may attend a bar mitzva or a siyum meal, since a bar mitzva is similar to a siyum since the child's parent's commandment to educate his/her child in Jewish education has been completed.
ExceptionA mourner whose child is getting married, does attend the wedding and does eat at the meal with everyone else, even if mourning for a parent. He or she does not need to leave the room when music is being played. To attend the wedding of anyone other than one's child, regardless of who died, a mourner must eat alone and outside the main dining area.

Note An intervening Jewish festival partially truncates the 30 days of mourning and so you may attend a bar mitzva or siyum even before the end of 30 days.
NoteIf you work at weddings (caterer, musician, etc.), you may attend weddings even before 30 days are up, but you may not join the meal.
Public Festivities for Mourner for Non-Parent
A mourner for the five categories of people other than parents (spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister) may join any celebrations, including the meals, after 30 days (and if any Jewish festivals intervene, that 30-day period is truncated).
Year of Mourning: SheHecheyanu
A mourner (avel) is permitted to say she'hecheyanu for himself but should not say she'hecheyanu if required for the congregation.  An avel should say she'hecheyanu on:
  • Eating a “new” fruit.
  • Wearing a new garment.
  • Lighting Chanuka candles at home for the first time that year.
 An avel should not do the following, since he should not say she'hecheyanu unless it is necessary:
  • Light Chanuka candles in synagogue.
  • Read the megila.
  • Blow shofar on Rosh Hashana.
Year of Mourning: Synagogue Seat
Synagogue Seat When Mourning for Parent
Change your normal seat in synagogue during the year of mourning for a parent. (The rabbi is not required to change seats). You should move to a seat further away from the aron hakodesh then your previous seat (since seats further from the aron are considered to be less prestigious than those close to the aron).
Reason This is to show humility and that we feel subdued due to the death.
Tombstones and Graves
When To Set Up Tombstone
Set up a tombstone on the grave any time after the burial but within 12 Jewish months of burial.
What To Have Engraved on Tombstone
Put the dead person's name on the tombstone. Anything aside from the name is optional.
Tombstone if Hebrew Name Unknown
Use the person's secular name in any language if the Hebrew name is unknown.
How To Treat Graves
Graves: Photographs
Taking photos of graves is OK. (This is common at the Jewish cemetery in Prague.)
Graves: Visiting
There is not any mitzva or halacha to visit graves of any person, not even tzadikim and not even parents.
Graves: Stepping on
Do not step on graves.
Graves: Leaving Stone
When you visit a grave, it is customary to leave a small stone on the tombstone.
Yarhzeit: Date
Yahrzeit: Timing
If the person was buried before the passage of two sunsets after death:
  • Yahrzeit day is the anniversary date of the day he or she died.
If the person was NOT buried before the passage of two sunsets after death:
  • First yahrzeit is one year after the day he/she was buried.
  • Subsequent yahrzeits will be on the day he/she died.
Yarhzeit: Candle
Yarhzeit: Candle: Day of Yahrzeit
Yahrzeit: Candle: Day of Yahrzeit
Lighting a yahrzeit candle on the yahrzeit of a parent is a universal custom but not a halacha.
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles: Yahrzeit and Yizkor
One candle is lit on the yahrzeit/anniversary of the date a parent died.
Note If both parents died on the same day, light two candles on the yahrzeit day (but only one on yizkor day).
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles: One per Household
For a deceased parent on a yahrzeit or yizkor day, only one candle needs to be lit in each home where any of a parent's children are at sunset of that evening.
  • If two siblings (or more) are in the same residence on the night of the yahrzeit, just light one yahrzeit candle.
  • If all siblings are in different homes, each sibling lights one yahrzeit candle.

Yahrzeit: Fasting
Fasting on Yahrzeit of Parents
It is a good custom (but not halacha) to fast on the yahrzeit of one's parents, since it is a kind of repentance (teshuva).