Jewish headstones and the tradition behind them are slightly different from other burial traditions. Some Jewish people practice the tradition of waiting for one year to have the headstone placed at the burial site. Before the one-year anniversary, or yahrzeit, there is an unveiling of the headstone. This unveiling is attended by friends and family and is considered to be a sacred time of memory and reflection. Stones are also left by visitors to symbolize their love for the loved one and as a sign of protection for the burial site and soul. With these things in mind, there are a few considerations for Jewish headstones that you should keep in mind.
Wider and Deeper Stones
A tradition within many Jewish families is to leave stones behind during their visits. Small stones are placed on top of the headstone. These stones may be gathered from the burial site or cemetery. They may also be special memorial stones that the family has ordered for placement during visits. Because of this tradition, choosing a headstone that is wider and deeper in measurements can be ideal. This gives the stones more space to be placed and keeps them safe from toppling over due to a lack of room.
For many Jews, having their Hebrew names engraved on the headstone is a final request. There are other Hebrew inscriptions that you may want to have placed for your loved one including parshas, or segments, from the Torah. If you plan on having this done, you will need to find an artisan or engraver skilled in Jewish headstone engraving and Hebrew lettering. This is to ensure the lettering is accurate with proper spacing.
Though the placement of the stone may not be within your power, if it is, consider an eastern facing headstone. This allows the stone to face towards Jerusalem. This both honors the memory of your loved one and honors their faith and beliefs. If you are having a Star of David, candles, or other faith symbol engraved on the stone make sure to have it facing east as well.
When you are ready to place an order for your Jewish loved one's headstone, meet with your funeral homes of choice. They can help connect you with their monument artisan. They can also help you with questions you have about the design and process. Reach out to a headstone supplier for more information.