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The service of unveiling is a formal dedication of the monument. It is customary to hold the unveiling within the first year after death. It should be held at anytime between the end of shiva and the yahrzeit.
The unveiling is the formal removal of a veil, a cloth, or handkerchief draped over the stone. It symbolizes the erection of the tombstone. The unveiling may be executed during the service by anyone the family designates.
The service consists of the recitation of several Psalms, the eulogy by the Rabbi and the removal of the veil. Loved ones may also share thoughts about the deceased. It is customary, before leaving the gravesite, to place a small stone on the marker to indicate that someone has visited the grave. This tradition may also reflect the biblical practice of marking the grave with a pile of stones.
The erecting of a tombstone gives honor to the body that housed the soul. A stone is also symbolic of eternity, like the cornerstone of a building, placed to last for all time. We erect stones to remember what our loved one erected in their lifetime – their deeds, their character – and they will never be forgotten.