Funerals and Mourning Rituals in the Time of COVID-19
(updated March 23, 2020)
The twin mitzvot of comforting the mourners and bringing honour to the deceased are our priority, even under such trying circumstances. Our Rabbis, Cantors, and Professional Staff are here to support you as always.
Most of the information here is still relevant: https://holyblossom.org/mourning/#1473943854726-86bd7ed1-6859
Designed with good guidance of the Ministry of Health, the following are the extraordinary protocols for these extraordinary circumstances.
For the time being, funerals can no longer take place in the Holy Blossom Sanctuary nor in the Funeral Home Chapels. Therefore, families have two options.
- Holy Blossom can arrange for a Virtual Funeral Service via Zoom. Rabbi and Cantor will lead the prayers, loved ones can deliver eulogies, and the Zoom link can be sent to family and friends near and far to gather around you. After the virtual funeral service, immediate mourners will gather with Rabbi or Cantor for the brief burial service. No more than ten people – including Rabbi/Cantor, Funeral Home and Cemetery Professionals – may be in attendance. Those who act as pallbearers or participate in the burial must wear gloves. Every household must stand 2 metres apart from one another and 2 metres from the grave as well.
- The funeral service and burial service are combined at the gravesite. The same protective measures will be maintained. We have been instructed that the ceremonies must be less than 30 minutes in length.
These rituals are as powerful as ever – if not more so. We are confident they the ceremonies will be a great source of comfort even though adapted to keep everyone healthy.
Shiva ought to be private. Mourners can identify days and times when they’d welcome visitors via video conference or phone. If you’d like some guidance about how to establish a Virtual Shiva via Zoom, Mari Lynn Rusak can be your guide. Mari Lynn can be reached at: [email protected].
Mourners have two options.
- You can join the daily services conducted by our Rabbis and Cantors via Zoom. Service times and simple links may be found here. The name of your loved one will be remembered before Kaddish.
- If you’d like our volunteer Shiva Service leaders to lead just your circle of family and friends in a tailor-made service via Zoom, that can be arranged for you. These shiva services are held at 8:00 pm, Sunday – Thursday.
Visiting the Cemeteries
Sadly, most Jewish cemeteries, including Pardes Shalom, Pardes Chayim, and our own Holy Blossom Memorial Park on Brimley Road, are closed for visitation and will only be opened for burial services.
Normally, as Pesach approaches families go to visit the cemeteries where loved ones are buried and place a stone of remembrance. Although this won’t be possible this year, families will take comfort in our Yom Tov and Yizkor/Memorial Services on the Seventh Day of Pesach, Wednesday, April 15, at 10:00 am.
All unveiling ceremonies will need to be rescheduled for when Public Health indicates it is safe to do so. Lindsay Mockler will be happy to help you make arrangements. She may be reached at [email protected].
Holy Blossom Temple offers services and resources to provide some measure of comfort to our members and friends during this time of physical isolation.