Secular Jewish Funerals
Serving Main Line Philly and the surrounding areas
There are stars up above so far away we only see their light
Long, long after the star itself is gone
And so it is with people whom we loved, their memories keep shining
Ever brightly though their time with us is done…
These are the ways we remember.
~ Hannah Senesh
I’m Sorry for the Loss of Your Loved One
This website is designed to be a resource for friends and family who have just experienced the loss of a loved one and who identify as Jewish but also as “secular,” “agnostic,” or simply “not very religious.”
As a secular humanist rabbi, I am honored to help you plan for the burial, cremation, or memorial service for your loved one, as well as offer secular Jewish shiva minyans or tombstone unveilings as desired. I primarily serve the Main Line and metropolitan Philadelphia but am willing to travel out of state if time permits.
Coping with death is hard on everyone – no matter how “expected” it might have been, and no matter how “welcome” death might have been (if its arrival brought the end of suffering.) Death is even harder when it was sudden and unexpected – and outright shattering when the person dying passed way before their time.
Unfortunately, the harried nature of Jewish burial traditions only adds to this distress. Burials in Jewish tradition typically happen within 24 hours after death. Not only is adhering to this schedule stressful, it can also be expensive. Because only first-degree family members are able to get “bereavement fares” on airlines, rushing to have your memorial on such a tight timeframe can add thousands of more dollars to the extended family who wish to attend.
Therefore, the first thing I want you to know is that you have permission to take longer than 24 hours to bury your loved one. It really is okay! So, knowing that, take a deep breath and try to relax. We will work together to honor the life of your loved one at their funeral or memorial service, on whatever time frame works for you.
As the officiant, I will meet with you or other family members to plan the service. With your help, I will learn about your loved one – who they were, who they loved, and what were their challenges and accomplishments – and weave that into a eulogy that captures their life. That eulogy, blended with poetry, music, and Kaddish, is the heart and soul of every Jewish funeral or memorial service.
What next? I suggest you take a look at my blog post “Planning a Jewish Funeral in Philly 101: What You Need to Know” and then contact me so we can see if our schedules coordinate. Then, if you’d like to proceed, we will begin planning the ceremony.
B’vracha – Rabbi Joysa Winter
How Can I Help?
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, contact me today.