We are taught that the soul is brought into Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) when the tombstone is erected. For that reason, many erect the tombstone on the day following Shiva (the 8th day). Others wait until thirty days, and still others wait until twelve months. One should follow the custom of his community, or ask a competent rabbi for guidance.

In many communities, the stone is set privately by the Chevra Kaddisha (Jewish Burial Society). In other communities, family members gather at the gravesite for the stone setting to recite prayers and Psalms.

Some Customs

  1. One who has not been to a Jewish cemetery for thirty days recites a special blessing upon arrival.

  2. There is no set service for setting a headstone. Some people recite Psalms, including Psalm 91, and some add Psalms 33, 16, 17, 72, 104, and 130.

  3. Some also recite verses from Psalm 119 that begin with the letters of the Hebrew name of the deceased, and the word נשמה (Heb. "soul").

  4. Some recall the deceased's good qualities and traits, and encourage the visitors to honor the memory of the departed by increasing their commitment to repentance and good deeds.

  5. Some light a candle at the grave once the tombstone is erected.

  6. Some have the custom to place a pebble or stone on the tombstone, showing that the grave has been visited.