Formally setting a monument
We have compiled some information to help guide you as you find ways to show you care for the deceased, and their family during this difficult time.
What is an unveiling?
An unveiling (hakamat hamatzeivah) is a graveside religious ceremony marking the formal setting of a loved one’s monument at the cemetery, as it is a religious obligation to place a marker at the grave of a loved one.
When is the unveiling held?
According to Jewish law the monument may be set any time at or after the sheloshim. While the custom in Israel is to have the unveiling on the sheloshim itself, some hold the unveiling service close to the end of the year of mourning.
Is there a prescribed ritual for an unveiling?
No. Custom dictates a brief ceremony, with family and friends present. Generally, Psalms are recited, followed by some brief words about the deceased, the actual unveiling of the stone, the El Maleh Rachamim (the Memorial Prayer), and the Kaddish.
Why do some people leave pebbles on the headstone as they leave the cemetery?
In biblical times graves were frequently marked by a pile of stones. They would be toppled by wind and rain, and people would have to re-pile the stones. Some suggest that this may explain the custom of leaving pebbles, that is, by leaving a stone, you are, in effect, resetting the “pile” of stones, and receiving credit as if marking the grave for the first time. Today, the pebbles serve as a visible sign that members of the family came to visit and remember.
Where can I go to get more information about unveilings?
For more information regarding unveiling customs and procedures, contact your Rabbi or contact Mount Sinai Memorial Chapels.