Guide for Setting Up the Meal of Condolence
Return to the main Chevra Kadisha page.
Contact the family to arrange a time to visit the home briefly to see the physical layout for the
meal and to get any specific instructions they may have.
Some Questions to Resolve
- If the meal of condolence is to be at the synagogue, remind family that KI is a kosher
dairy/parve facility; meats or meat products are not permitted.
- Ask about possible refrigeration space (avoid placing dairy products into refrigerators that
hold kosher meats—vegetables are OK). KI arranges vegetarian meals, but we recognize
that some visitors may bring a meat dish (except if the meal is to be at KI).
- How many visitors are expected?
- Are a large bowl, pitcher, and small table available for the hand-washing station? Which
door will be used to enter the home? Consider whether the station will need to be moved
if it is raining; designate that alternate location.
- If it’s not obvious, ask if the family has a preference for where the food is to be set up.
- Are urns for coffee and hot water for tea available?
- Shall we cover mirrors or remove chair cushions for the family?
- Are there any other requests by the family?
- Do they prefer to provide a house key or leave a door unlocked?
- In cold and/or wet weather, where should visitors’ coats and boots/shoes be placed?
During the Funeral
Specific procedures will depend on the particular house and family requests.
Designate someone to be in charge of receiving advance food donations at the home and
transporting food to the home for the meal of condolence during the funeral. Request that ALL
donated food will be on dishes that do not need to be returned, to the extent possible.
- Set up a hand-washing station—pitcher, bowl, paper towels, small table, wastepaper
basket, and sign(s) to explain the station.
- Cover the mirrors and remove cushions, if that was requested.
- Set up a large trash can lined with sturdy bag; more than one if necessary.
- Arrange chairs as needed in the sitting areas.
- If you can, avoid using any dishes, etc. from the home—use disposable or congregational
items. Serving dishes can be removed after the meal, but leave all food that was donated.
- Arrange buffet table(s) so that people can easily move past to fill plates. Put beverages
(including cold water) and desserts at separate location(s) from main dishes/side dishes, if
- Keep a list of names and phone numbers of resource people and others signed up to help.
- Know where to obtain paper products and other items (KI or purchase? Gordon Food Service
provides a discount and sales-tax exemption). Keep receipts.
- Arrange volunteers for cleaning up after the meal, returning furniture to its normal location,
returning borrowed items to KI, etc.
Items to Bring
Hard-cooked eggs (get a volunteer to prepare these)
Bagels (one for every two people; get them sliced at the store)
Ice (bagged) for water
Cooler, if needed.
Plastic table covers (quiet colors such as white, dark blue)
Plastic cups (for hot and cold)
Serving spoons, etc.
Large waste barrel from KI with heavy-weight garbage bags
Serving bowls and platters from KI
Large basket for bagels from KI
Plastic wrap, foil, food storage bags from KI