Aron: Casket. Same word is use for “ark”.

Chevra Kadisha: Holy Society. This is the group which prepares the deceased for burial with the ritual of tahara. They can also provides a shomer or shomrim as needed for shmira, or the guarding of the body between tahara and the funeral.

Chesed Shel Emet: The truest act of kindness. Tahara is such an act because the recipient of the chesed cannot thank the provider.

Chevra Kavod haMet: Society for Honoring the Dead.

Goses: A dying person.

Kaddish: A prayer sanctifying G-d that is recited during religious services. It is recited by mourners in memory of the deceased.

Kavod Hamet: Honoring the deceased.

Kippah / Yarmulke: Traditional Jewish head covering.

Kohen Gadol: High priest who was chief among the priests who officiated in the Temple.

K’rovei Israel: Term referring to non-Jews who are actively part of the Jewish community.

Met / Meta: The deceased, masculine / feminine.

Minhag: The accepted tradition(s) of a group, or the local customs.

Minyan: Quorum of 10 Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations.

Mitzvah: Commandment or religious obligation.

Mitzvot: Pl. mitzvah.

Neshama: Soul.

Nichum Avaylim: Comforting the mourners.


Shabbat: The Jewish weekly day of rest observed from sunset Friday evening until nightfall on Saturday. The observance of Shabbat is one of the Ten Commandments, and is regarded by Jews as a day of physical rest and spiritual uplift, marked by home observance and synagogue attendance.

Shiva: Seven-day period of mourning following burial.

Shiva Minyan: The prayer service(s) recited in the mourners’ home during the week of observing shiva. These prayer services are open to all, and Jews are encouraged to attend to ensure that a minyan of Jewish adults is present.

Shloshim: The thirty-day period following the funeral of a loved one, during which mourners recite Kaddish daily and limit certain activities, such as attendance at concerts and parties.

Shmira: The act of performing the service of shomer.

Shomer: Guard. Person who attends the body of the deceased from the time of death until burial.

Shomrim: Pl. shomer.

Sovev: Part of the tachrichim, it is the covering sheet in which the dressed met/a is wrapped.

Tachrihim: Burial shrouds. Specifically: a head covering (mitznefet), pants (michnasayim), shirt (k’tonet), tunic (kittel), belt (avnet or gartel) and wrapping sheet (sovev).

Tahara: Purification. This includes the ritual of washing, purifying, and dressing the deceased.

Yahrzeit: Meaning “year-time” in Yiddish, it is the anniversary of the death, usually calculated from the Hebrew date of death.  A 24-hour memorial candle is lit, and close relatives recite the Mourner’s Kaddish at synagogue.

In Their Words
Imagining the grace and respect my mother was afforded in death is an ongoing source of comfort. Her tahara affirms her abiding presence even though she has passed from this life.
— Helen, Daughter of Sabina Mager, z"l
In my entire life, I don't think I've done anything more worthwhile than serve on the Chevra Kadisha.
— Saul, New Orleans, Louisiana
Knowing my parents' lifetime of dedication to Jewish living will end with this time honored tradition, and that they will be treated with the ultimate respect and honor, is of huge comfort to me and our family.
— Mark, Portland, Oregon
Knowing my grandmother was lovingly cared for by members of our community's Chevra Kadisha was such a comfort to me in my hours of grief. I had cared for her for so long. In the end, I felt so much trust in the women who continued to give her the love and attention she deserved.
— Sharon, Eugene, Oregon
I feel that I have been blessed with the ability to do this mitzvah. Some people have beautiful voices and others play musical instruments. I feel that being able to perform tahara is a gift from G-d.
— Natalie, Englewood, New Jersey
The most rewarding part of doing a tahara is the sense of continuity of the lifecycle and the connection with the Jewish people historically. In many ways I get the same feeling when I light the Sabbath candles...It binds me to the community of Jews throughout the ages and throughout the world.
— Phyllis, Greenfield, Massachusetts