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When Death Occurs

What to Do FirstSinai Memorial Chapel

When a loved one dies, we encourage you to call us at Sinai as soon as possible. We are available 24 hours a day to guide and support you and your family throughout the entire process. Call us to schedule an arrangement conference at one of our offices.

The first thing we’ll do is speak with you in person or on the phone to discuss your situation. Based on your preliminary preferences and any plans that your loved one made, we will come up with a funeral plan that meets your needs. We will then bring your loved one to Sinai and begin the process of preparing the body according to Jewish tradition.

Transporting Your Loved One

If death occurs out-of-town or out-of-state, we’ll make the necessary arrangements to transport the deceased to Sinai and prepare it for burial or cremation.

If the person who has died must be transported from the Bay Area to another community, we can handle those arrangements.

Some Jews wish to be buried in Israel, and we are very experienced in making these arrangements. If that is what you wish, we can immediately begin the process of ensuring that happens.

Notifying Authorities

The proper authorities must be notified when a person dies. The authorities you’ll need to contact will depend on where the person died.

  • When death is imminent:
    If a person is failing rapidly and death is imminent, you should let the primary care physician know that someone from Sinai will call him or her to complete the death certificate and transport the body after death occurs. Sinai will need to obtain the attending doctor’s signature quickly so that a death certificate and burial/transit permit can be secured in a timely manner.
  • If the death occurred in a hospital, nursing home, or other type of care facility:
    When someone passes away in a hospital, nursing home, or other care facility, the staff there will know what to do and can contact Sinai and the authorities on your behalf.
  • If the death occurred under hospice care (at home or in a hospice facility):
    If death occurs under the supervision of hospice care, contact the hospice providers. They can notify Sinai and the authorities on your behalf.
  • If the death occurred at home or at work:
    When death occurs unexpectedly, the police must be notified. You can reach the police by calling 911. If the person who died was under medical care, you should contact the primary care physician. (If you don’t know the physician’s name, check medical records, bills, or prescription bottles.) You can also call Sinai at (415) 921-3636, and we can advise you about the proper authorities to contact.
  • If advance plans were made for organ or body donations:
    If your loved one made advance plans to donate their organs or body, try to contact the recipient organization before death, if possible, so that time-sensitive arrangements can be made. Alternatively, you can call Sinai, and we will work with the recipient organization. Organs may be donated after death, so be sure to let Sinai and any authorities know that the person is an organ donor so that his or her wishes can be followed.

Meeting with a Sinai Funeral Director

You and your family will need to make many decisions regarding how you want to honor the death of your loved one. This takes place at a meeting known as an “arrangement conference,” which can be held at Sinai or, if you prefer, in your home. The conference should be scheduled in a timely and convenient manner—which can be after someone dies or when death is imminent.

During the arrangement conference, one of our funeral counselors will explain your options and do everything possible to honor your wishes.

The conference must include the person who has the authority to make decisions regarding funeral and burial/cremation arrangements. This person is usually the next of kin, such as a spouse, adult child, or parent.

To schedule an arrangement conference, please call Sinai at:

(415) 921-3636 | San Francisco 

(925) 962-3636 | Lafayette 

(650) 369-3636 | Palo Alto


For information on how to prepare for the arrangement conference, click here.