I am going to an unveiling. What should I expect?

Answered by
Rabbi Victor S. Appell

An unveiling is the ceremony at which a tombstone is erected in memory of one who has died. While this is a relatively modern custom, we find its roots in the pillar Jacob set up over the grave of his beloved Rachel (Genesis 35:20). This ceremony is usually held about one year after the burial, though in Israel, unveilings are commonly held one month after a burial. An unveiling is a brief ceremony and there is no specific liturgy. Often El Malei Rachamim, the memorial prayer, and the Mourner’s Kaddish are recited. These may be accompanied by psalms of comfort, meaningful readers and brief remembrances of the deceased. Since an unveiling often brings family and friends together, the ceremony is sometimes followed by a meal at the home of a family member.