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Funerals, Unveilings, & Memorials

Let us support you in your time of grief and help you memorialize your deceased loved ones.

To read general information on Humanistic Jewish Life Cycle Events, click here. To read about Oraynu’s own Jewish Cemetery, see below or click here. For information on Pre-planning, see below.

In Humanistic Judaism we believe that death is final and that we live on in the memories of those who knew us or those whose lives we or our actions and work have influenced and through the donation of our organs or body parts to help those whose lives would be immeasurably benefitted by our donation. Oraynu and its rabbis offer memorialization ceremonies that are consistent with our philosophy, and do not contain theistic prayers or worship.

Religious Memorialization

Religious death rituals operate on the assumption that although the body dies, a soul lives forever and can come into relationship with god. Some people call that relationship Life after Death, the Hereafter or Eden/Paradise. Preparation for religious burial therefore requires purification of the body to prepare it for this sacred relationship in the anticipated life to come. In antiquity, disposition of bodies was varied. Over time, to differentiate Jewish rituals from those of surrounding cultures, the rabbis called for the burial of all bodies in the earth. Religious ceremonies incorporate prayers that praise god’s mercy, and appeal to that mercy for the deceased and for the living.

Significance of Humanistic Jewish Memorializations

Humanistic Jewish Memorial ceremonies have three important purposes:

  1. to authentically celebrate the life and impact of the deceased loved one
  2. to enable the family and community to say goodbye to those who have died and
  3. to provide support and consolation to the bereaved.

Our rabbis will officiate at a memorial ceremony in any location, offering Humanistic Jewish ceremonies or humanistic ceremonies for those who are not Jewish. Ceremonies can be performed for adults, children, babies or fetuses that did not make it to term. They can assist you whether you own a grave lot or urn space at the Oraynu Cemetery or any other cemetery.

Humanistic Funerals/Memorials/Unveilings

Oraynu has very few restrictions and we will aim to meet your needs and honour your choices that are consistent with the requirements of your funeral home or cemetery.

  • private ceremony or open event
  • in a chapel or other indoor location
  • graveside ceremony only
  • presence of casket/cremation urn at ceremony
  • can be shortly after death or as soon as all family and friends can gather
  • interment can be private or open to funeral attendees
  • memorial ceremonies can take place weeks/months or even a year after death
  • unveiling or dedication of monument, plaque, tree, or other memorial inscription can take place within a year or so after death

Please note that at some Congregational cemeteries, outside clergy are not permitted to officiate at graveside burials.

Ceremonies may Include

  • general words about nature, dying and death
  • eulogy by the rabbi or family member
  • tributes by family, friends and colleagues
  • sharing at memorial service by those present
  • poetry, songs, music
  • candle lighting ritual

After meeting with the family, our Rabbis, Rabbi Eva Goldfinger, Rabbi Karen Levy and Rabbi Denise Handlarski, create and lead a warm, meaningful and culturally relevant humanistic (link to philosophy) memorial ceremony that respects your family diversity and needs, and honours the deceased.

Shiva or Condolence Calls

Immediately following the memorial or interment one can invite those in attendance to join the family for some refreshments, either at the memorial location or at the family’s home. This communal gathering can be the only follow up to the funeral. Some people choose to sit shiva or open their home to condolence calls for a length of time ranging from the remainder of the day of memorialization up to seven days following the service. Often, as a gift of kindness, family members or friends arrange for meals at the house of shiva to relieve the bereaved of this burden.

Pre-planning

We always recommend pre-planning for your memorialization and disposition to ensure that

  • your personal wishes for the form and content of your memorial ceremony are honoured
  • the disposition of your remains is consistent with your wishes
  • arranging for the ceremony and disposition does not become burdensome for your bereaved family
  • you ultimately can save on the funeral and cemetery costs

Our rabbis will be happy to meet with you to determine the type of disposition you prefer and the basic content of your memorial ceremony. Your wishes can be communicated directly to your family. We can then refer you to an appropriate Jewish or non-denominational Funeral Director and Cemetery for pre-planning.

You can choose to be placed in a Jewish Community cemetery, Oraynu’s Cemetery, or any multi or non-denominational cemetery. Jewish Community cemeteries accept only Jewish bodies for burial and do not accept cremated remains. Oraynu leaves the choice of disposition to the individual. You can be

  • buried in a casket
  • cremated with your cremains buried in an urn or placed in an urn space or
  • cremated with your cremains scattered

Contact Us

For more information and costs or to book a date and time for a memorialization, please contact our Life Cycle Director, Rabbi Eva Goldfinger at evagoldfinger007@gmail.com or 416-494-7450.

Oraynu’s own Jewish Cemetery

To enable our members, and others in the Jewish community who are not religiously inclined, to exercise freedom of choice regarding funeral and disposition rituals, and to service the growing intercultural community, Oraynu established its own distinct Jewish section in the non-denominational Elgin Mills Cemetery in Richmond Hill that permits burial options consistent with Humanistic Jewish principles and rites. Ownership of burial/scattering rights requires membership in the Burial Society of Oraynu, plus a minimum one-year congregational membership.  If a rights owner ceases to be a member in subsequent years, an annual burial Society fee is charged until death.

The burial of one or two caskets or urns in a grave lot, the burial or scattering of cremated remains and the interment of individuals of any faith or culture are permitted, provided that the Jewish identity of the Oraynu section is retained in accordance with Oraynu’s cemetery and inscription policies. For detailed information on our cemetery, click here.