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Times of Mourning - Funeral Arrangements


The synagogue is here to help families in times of sadness, as well as in times of joy. The Hebra Hased Va-Amet is one of the oldest organizations within Shearith Israel, and is comprised of devoted congregants who volunteer their services at the time of the death of a fellow congregant. The Hebra helps indigent families pay for burial costs, sees to the traditional preparation of the body for burial, arranges for the mourner’s meal to be given following the burial and helps provide for the needs of families in mourning.   If the services of the Hebra are needed, day or night, please call the Sexton, Zachary Edinger at 917-584-3787.


Funeral services, held at a local Jewish funeral home, are characterized by reverence and simplicity. Burials of congregants generally take place at Shearith Israel’s cemetery in Cypress Hills, unless the family has made other arrangements.


During the week of Shivah, families receive visitors at home. If prayer services are recited at the mourners’ home, they are chanted to the same mournful melody that is used in the synagogue on Tisha B’Av.  Often, families choose to attend morning and evening services at the synagogue during the week of Shivah.


The anniversary of the death of a loved one is known in Shearith Israel as “Nahalah." The Nahalah is observed on the 30th day from date of burial and on the 11th month from date of burial. The annual Nahalah is observed on the anniversary of the date of the death of a loved one. In observance of a Nahalah, family members attend synagogue services, and recite Kaddish as designated in the prayer book. At the conclusion of services, a “Hashcabah” (memorial prayer) is chanted.  Men may receive an Aliyah to the Torah on the Shabbat morning following the Nahalah of a loved one, at which time a hashcabah is recited. It is customary to make contributions to the synagogue and to other charitable institutions in memory of a loved one.


Shearith Israel maintains a “Book of Perpetual Hashcabot," dating back to 1718. This book includes the names of congregants who have left bequests for the future maintenance of the synagogue.  A hashcabah in memory of those listed in this Book of Perpetual Hashcabot is recited before services on the mornings of Rosh Hodesh, and on the Shabbat afternoon following the anniversary of the date of the passing of each person listed in the Book. Those listed in the Book of Perpetual Hashcabot are also memorialized on Yom Kippur. Families of the Congregation may arrange for the names of loved ones to be added to this historic book, by speaking with our Executive Director.

Chatham Square Cemetery

The oldest of our extant cemeteries is known as the Chatham Square Cemetery.  It is located in Chinatown at 55 St. James Place.  The land was originally purchased in 1682 by Joseph Bueno de Mesquita. 

Uriah Phillips Levy

Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jew to be promoted to Commodore in the United States Navy.