What to do in the event of a bereavement?

At Catford And Bromley United Synagogue support is always on hand to help you through this difficult time. You will be guided through the process of arranging a levoyah (burial) and shivah (memorial prayers) as necessary by our devoted community. The following information should tell you all you need to know.
If you need immediate assistance please contact us on: 020 8698 9496
  • Get the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death signed by a doctor.
  • Tell the doctor that you are Jewish. You must do this immediately, as burial should take place within 24 hours.
  • Phone the Local Registrar in the area where the death occurred. Not where the deceased lived. For Bromley this is 020 8313 4666.
  • Tell the registrar you are Jewish, and need a death certificate immediately as burial should take place within 24 hours.
  • Book an appointment to see them for a time as soon as possible after you believe you will have possession of the Medical Certificate.
  • You will need the deceased’s Birth Certificate, and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
  • Take these to the Registrar Of Births, Deaths And Marriages. They will issue you with the official Death Certificate and a Green Certificate for the Burial Society. For Bromley this is: Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR1 3UH. Phone number: 020 8313 4666.
  • Get several copies of the death certificate (at least 5) from the registrar. This will save you time and inconvenience, as you will find many administrative bodies requesting a certified copy (they will not accept photocopies).
  • Get hold of the Hebrew name of the deceased. If the deceased is a male over Bar Mitzvah age, you will also need his Tallis. If you do not know their Hebrew name phone the Administrator (Dorothy) on 020 8698 9496 or 07860 729762 for this.
  • In any case, let the Minister know about the death as soon as possible and advise the Administrator (Dorothy) on 07860 729762 and/or at least one Board Member.
  • Phone The Burial Society on 020 8950 7767 leave your name (the caller), the name of deceased and a contact telephone number.
  • If it is out of hours you can leave a message, and phone them back as soon as their office opens. Or use their emergency number at 07957 119 119 (not available on Shabbat or Yom Tov).
  • They will give you a date and time. You do have some control over this for example: if family are flying in from abroad or are in hospital. Explain your situation, they are usually accommodating.
  • As soon as the Burial Society has given a firm date and time for the Levoyah (burial), phone the Administrator (Dorothy) again to give the details.
  • Where? At what times? And for how many days? are going to hold the Shivah. Let the Administrator know these at the same time.
  • The Burial Society will arrange to pick up the body. This is usually early on the morning of the Levoyah.
  • Please ensure that the Green Certificate (and the Tallis) are with the body. It may help if someone is present when the body is picked up.
  • If you would like someone to sit with the deceased prior to the Levoyah, please ask the Minister.
  • Write a eulogy for the deceased for the Minister to read out at the Levoyah. You can also read out your own eulogies at the Shivah.
  • Choose an item of clothing to wear which can be torn: Keriah.
  • Inform all the departed’s friends and family about the situation, and the details of the Levoyah and Shivah.
  • If at all possible, it is useful to print out copies of the address of the Shivah (with a map), which can then be handed out at the Levoyah.
  • Ensure that there is going to be a minyan at the Levoyah and Shivahs. If you have concerns that there may not be a minyan, please let the Minister, the administrator, and / or a board member know.
  • The mourners say a special Kaddish at the Shivah. If you would like help saying the Kaddish please speak to the Minister. There are transliterations, and people can assist you.
  • Pick up Shivah chairs and the Shivah prayer books from the synagogue. The chief mourners need to sit on Shivah chairs.
  • Get a Yartzeit candle.
  • Ensure you have Shabbat candles for your Shabbat candlesticks. These will be lit during the Shivah service.
  • In the room where the Shivah service is to be held. Locate the East so that you can inform the Minister when he arrives.
  • Cover all your mirrors in the Shivah house.
  • Organise catering for the Shivah, and the special meal for the chief mourners for when you come back from the Levoyah (bagel, hard boiled egg and schmaltz herring are standard). Many of the usual kosher caterers can help you arrange this.
  • Arrange the return of the Shivah chairs and books to the synagogue immediately after the Shivah.
  • The period of mourning is dependent on your relation to the deceased. Please ask the Minister for the date that your mourning period will end.
  • Between death and the Levoyah, the next of kin should only concern themselves with the deceased, and should not attend religious services.
  • There is no mourning on Shabbat, so the mourners will be asked to wait outside the synagogue on Friday evening until Lechah Dodye has finished. Then the mourners will be invited in.
  • Please let the wardens know of your arrival at the synagogue, and let them know whether you are sitting Shivah, or if this is your first Shabbat since sitting Shivah.
  • The mourners should take different seats to their usual seats until the period of mourning has finished. Please remember that mourners should not wear leather shoes.
  • The torn clothing, Keriah, should not be worn during Shabbat. But, it should be worn again if Shivah continues after Shabbat.
  • Male mourners will not receive a mitzvah during Shivah, but will be called up during the Shabbat after Shivah.
  • The Mourners say Kaddish during Ma'ariv and in the Memorial Service. Please speak to the Minister if you would like help saying the Kaddish.
  • There are transliterations, and people can assist you.

For further information please visit The United Synagogue website: