An unveiling is a ceremony commemorating the tombstone which was erected in memory of one who has died. While this is a relatively modern custom, starting at the end of the 19th century in England and the United States, we find it roots in the pillar Jacob set up over the grave of his beloved wife 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. Before the unveiling, a cloth is placed over the stone and then removed during the ceremony when the stone is viewed and inscription read. 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 read. These may be accompanied by psalms of comfort, meaningful readings, and brief remembrances of the deceased by those in attendance.
Since an unveiling often brings together family and friends, the ceremony is sometimes followed by a meal at a restaurant or the home of a family member. Where Rabbi Douglas Kohn is glad to officiate at an unveiling for temple members, many families conduct the unveiling themselves using self-written creative services for just their immediate family and very close friends. Rabbi Kohn is available to help you plan a meaningful unveiling for you and your family. If you are planning an unveiling, please let the Temple Office know of the date in advance. It is also a good time to do a mitzvah in memory of the deceased loved one. A good example is a special donation to the Cemetery Fund, to help insure the beautiful care of the cemetery for years to come.