Removing Leather Shoes

The mourners (both men and women) remove their leather shoes and replace them with non-leather footwear (i.e. slippers or sneakers).The mourners are now "Aveilim ," (or "Avel" in the singular), which means "one who is in mourning."

The Graveside Condolence

After the Mourner's Kaddish is recited, all the Jewish men present form two rows, with at least five people in each row. The male mourners walk in the pathway between the two rows, and the people console them with the passage below. After the male mourners pass, all the men forming the rows move to one side, forming a single row. The women mourners then pass in front of them, receiving the same condolence.

As the mourners pass, those forming the rows saythe following:

May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Leaving the Cemetery

It is a Kaballistic custom that when leaving the gravesite, all the women should leave first, followed by the men.

It is advisable that before leaving the cemetery, the mourners sit on a low stool or bench, formally initiating the Shiva mourning process. This is so that they can count this day as the first day of Shiva.

Some have the custom to place some money in a charity box, or make a pledge to do so later, in honor of the deceased.

On the way out of the cemetery, it is customary to pull out some grass, throw it back over the shoulder, and recite the passage below. This symbolizes the Resurrection of the Dead in the era of Moshiach, when the body will awaken and return from the dust of the earth, as it is written, "And may they blossom out of the city like grass of the earth" (Psalms 72:16).

As you toss the grass back over your shoulder, say the following verse three times:

Some say this instead:

Washing the Hands

All those who attended the funeral must wash their hands ritually, once outside the cemetery area. Take a large cup of water in the left hand, pour it over the entire right hand, covering up to the wrist. Take the cup in the right hand, and pour it over the entire left hand, covering up to the wrist. Repeat two additional times. It is customary to place the cup upside down after washing, and not to dry one's hands with a towel or paper, so that the memory of the deceased lingers.

Mourners Retire to the Shiva Home

Following the burial, the mourners retire to the Shiva home. This is the place where the family will gather to observe the Shiva and to receive visitors. As soon as the mourners arrive at the Shiva home, they are served a meal called the Seudat Havra-ah, the meal of recovery or condolence (see following chapter).

Since a mourner does not put on Tefillin on the day of the burial, it is advisable to consult a competent rabbi whether he should put them on and pray once the burial is complete (if it is still daytime). Some authorities permit it, but only if it is done in private.