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Unveiling Ceremony for Temporary Headstone

Question:

My family is trying to arrange an unveiling ceremony for our mother, a”h. Unfortunately, the company the cemetery uses to make the headstones does sloppy work, and we’ve had to return the headstone twice because it was unacceptable (the name was correct but the letters weren’t sized properly, etc.). My question is this: Are you allowed to do the unveiling ceremony with a headstone that you know you will be returning shortly to have redone, or must you wait until the permanent headstone is in place? We still have time, in terms of the shanas aveilus, to try again with the headstone. But some of the family members will be coming in from out of the country, and so we can’t set a date for the ceremony at the last minute; we need to give them enough time to arrange vacation time and make their travel arrangements.

Answer:

My apologies that it took a while to get back to you.

Essentially the unveiling ceremony is no more than a ceremony, and it will not change anything regarding the halachos. Regarding changing the writing on the headstone, it is permitted to change the writing on the headstone, it is preferred that the stone not be removed, and that the changes in the writing take place without removing it. However if this can not be done, iot is permitted to remove it to have the letters changed, being done for the benefit of the niftar. one point though, if the stone is not being put back and being used for the niftar, essentially a tombstone is not allowed to be benefitted from, i.e used for someone else or for a different use. (According to some, it should be buried, so it should not be used, which might not be so easy).

Best wishes and  kasiva v’chasima tova

Sources:

Y:D 364-1 Pischei Teshuva ibid 1, Tziunei Halacha 135, PIschei Teshuva Y:D 364.

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