|Ask Rabbi Lerner|
My mother was born a Jew but married out of her faith. She has been very ill. The family has not been raised in the Jewish faith and I'd like to know if on her headstone we can put a Star of David? My older sister thinks we should put a menorah? We'd also like a Rabbi to be at the funeral. What can he do for us?
In brief, generally speaking, most Jewish funeral homes will be able to take care of all your needs with compassion and thoughtfulness. Simply call the closest synagogue and ask them for the name of the funeral home taking care of their funerals. The funeral home will also be able to help you secure the services of a Rabbi who will coordinate the actual chapel or graveside service(s) - sometimes it is a chapel service and then there are additional rituals at graveside - and sometimes they are combined.
The star is not unusual on a gravestone and it is one of your options in my opinion. I suggest you check with a monument maker suggested by the funeral director or with the Rabbi you meet.
I believe a funeral service should be meaningful to the family and not just rote Hebrew without regard to their comprehension and needs. Translations and explanations should be helpful and part of the service. It is a tribute to your mother that her children are so sensitive and thoughtful. Those who serve you and your family should be likewise sensitive and thoughtful - and will be I am sure.
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)