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Can I have an unveiling ceremony 14 months after the death?


Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner

Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner

Question: Can I have an unveiling ceremony 14 months after the death?

Dear Rabbi,
My 96-year-old mother passed away 14 months ago. For health reasons, I have not had her unveiling ceremony yet. The tombstone is ready, and now I would like to have the ceremony. Given that over a year has passed, what should I do? Do I need a rabbi to officiates if there will only be 5 or 6 people attending?
Thank you, Sol

Answer: Dear Sol,

First of all, one can dedicate a headstone whenever you wish after 30 days. In the U.S. it is common to do so after a year, but often the time is extended to more than a year because of the calendar and weather, the availability of family, etc.

If your Rabbi is unavailable, you might contact the congregation to see who is covering for him - perhaps the Cantor or Shammas.

You can try to have a minyan, but it is required only for reciting Kaddish. The other Psalms, memorial prayer and personal recollections can still be recited. These texts generally are available in any standard prayerbook, or your funeral home can provide them.

Insure with your monument company that they provide your with a "veil", generally a cheesecloth with which to cover the headstone. Uncovering the stone is an honor generally reserved for children and/or grandchildren and/or spouse.

Best wishes and better years ahead.
Rabbi Dov

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