Placing a memorial or marker at the site of the final resting place of a loved one dates all the way back to biblical times. We read in the Torah (The Five Books of Moses) that the patriarch Jacob placed a stone at the grave of his beloved wife Rachel.
Today, it is customary to commission a headstone, gravestone or marker to be placed at the burial spot of a loved one. These memorials include the English and Hebrew name of the deceased and the years of birth and death. Some people also choose to include an acknowledgment of cherished relationships, such as "Beloved Wife," or "Devoted Father," as well as inspirational quotes or inscriptions and religious symbols such as the Star of David.
Generally speaking, monuments are dedicated sometime around the first anniversary of your loved one's passing, but there is flexibility with this to accomodate the availability of family and friends.
Unveiling ceremonies are not funeral services. They are generally brief and do not include formal eulogies. When I officiate at unveiling ceremonies, I provide booklets for everyone present. Since unveilings are generally less formal than funerals, I invite those present to share stories, anecdotes or memories of the deceased. Towards the end of the ceremony, I ask the closest relatives to remove the covering that has been placed on the headstone or marker. The ceremony concludes with an invitation for those present to locate a rock or pebble on the ground and place it atop the headstone. This is an ancient practice which signifies that people have visited the grave. Why a rock rather than flowers as is a custom in some other faiths? In Jewish tradition, God is sometimes referred to as Tsur Yisrael - the "Rock of Israel" - a rock on which the foundation of our heritage has been built...a rock whose strength and eternal endurance has inspired and fortified generations of our people, even during the darkest of times. It is a powerful symbol.
If you are planning an unveiling ceremony for your loved one, please contact me to discuss how I may be able to assist you.
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