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Rabbi David Sperling

Shevat 7, 5775
What happens if the headstone can’t be available at the time of the unveiling? My father passed away last March and due to a labor dispute, the headstone is stuck in a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach in California and we have no idea when it will be delivered to the carver.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It must be frustrating not to be able to put the headstone up – especially when there is nothing you can do about it. There are two services that are not dependent on each other. The first is to put the headstone up. Many communities do that after a month from the funeral, others after 11 months or a year. The timing is based purely on custom, and so you should not be overly distraught that it has been delayed in your fathers case. In any event, when it arrives you should have a ceremony, saying the appropriate psalms and words of praise of your late father. (You can fix the date as soon as convenient after the headstone's arrival). The second service is the yahziet, or anniversary of the death. On that date it is appropriate to visit the grave. This can be done despite the fact that the headstone has not yet been erected. May your fathers memory be a blessing.
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