End of Life

Our Sages call the mitzvah of mourning chesed shel emet — the truest kindness — because our actions in these painful times show honor and love for the deceased.

As a member of Washington Hebrew Congregation, we are here to support you in your time of need, with guidance and counseling both before and after a loss.

Whether the loss of a loved one is anticipated or comes unexpectedly, quite often, family members feel unprepared. Our Guide for Jewish Funeral Practices can provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish approach to life and death, specifically, our customs concerning death, burial rites, and mourning.

Our clergy are here to support and guide you and your family.

After a loved one passes, please call the Temple before making any arrangements so our clergy can assure their availability to be with you in your time of need. One of our rabbis or cantors will meet with you and your family to help you choose the best way to honor your loved one.

They can connect you with a Jewish funeral chapel and the Garden of Remembrance (WHC’s cemetery in Clarksburg, Maryland); and will officiate at your loved one’s funeral, burial, and shiva services.

From the rituals and customs of our religion — preparing for a funeral, sitting shiva, saying kaddish, and observing yahrzeit – to the emotions and grief surrounding a loss, your Temple family and our Caring Committee are here for you.

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In the days following a death, mourners sit shiva. What does that mean for you and your family? What happens when shiva ends?

Some mourners will find WHC’s Judaism and Bereavement: A Guide to Mourning helpful. Washington Hebrew also offers a Bereavement Support Group twice a year to help our members as they grieve.

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Bereavement Support Group, facilitated by a licensed social worker, provides mutual support and education to those who have experienced a loss during the last 18 months.

Limited in size to eight participants, the program recognizes each person’s unique way of grieving and provides a confidential and respectful environment for the bereaved to explore their feelings, begin working through complex issues of loss, and start to heal.

Washington Hebrew Congregation is grateful for the opportunity to provide support to its members who may be in need during their time of grief. This program is sponsored by the Edlavitch-Tyser Family Relations Forum.


Debbie Heller

Remember your loved one with a beautiful bronze memorial plaque that bears their name and date of passing. During the week of your loved one’s yahrzeit, we will display their plaque on the Memorial Wall in the Hertzberg Kaddish Lobby at the entrance to Kaufmann Sanctuary. On all other days, it will be enshrined in Gordon Archives Hall.

Each plaque is erected upon receipt of a donation of $2,000. You can make your full donation today or pay a $500 deposit per plaque. The balance is required to be paid within four years.


The name of this service comes from the act of removing the cloth covering a headstone – unveiling the permanent marker at a loved one’s gravesite. Marking the end of the first year of mourning, the Unveiling Service is relatively new in Jewish tradition. It can be led by one of our rabbis or cantors, or you may choose to conduct the service yourself and use our Service of Unveiling with prayers, poems, and Psalms as a guide.

Even after your official period of mourning comes to an end, you may find comfort attending a Yizkor service at Washington Hebrew Congregation. Held four times during the year — on Yom Kippur and during the festivals of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot — the service is an opportunity for our community to come together in prayer, remembrance, and personal reflection.

We come together in prayer and remembrance whenever there is a loss within our community. For those who wish to be notified of recent losses within our Congregation, we have created a Condolence List. Joining the email list will enable us to send you information about those who have passed and will give you an opportunity to reach out with support for your fellow congregants. To add yourself to the list, click here for our form and select “Condolence List.”


Debbie Heller