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View Diary: I need help from my Jewish friends: Condolences protocol (166 comments)

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  •  Attend shiva and bring food (16+ / 0-)

    Us Jews will use any excuse to eat, plus the mourning family should not have to worry about anything like the cooking.

    Also, this probably weirds a lot of people out the first time they sit a shiva (especially if they're not Jewish) but you may find friends and family of the deceased talking and laughing and seemingly having a good time, the idea being that you share memories and celebrate the life of the person who passed. When my grandfather died, this bothered my grandmother so much that she asked that we do not have shiva for her, and we respected those wishes when she passed. But I've been to other shivas where it almost seems like a party - it can definitely be strange at first. Just try to go with the flow.

    "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

    by yg17 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:58:31 PM PDT

    •  Ok, your comment convinced (12+ / 0-)

      me that the Irish are the lost tribe of Israel -- especially:

      Also, this probably weirds a lot of people out the first time they sit a shiva (especially if they're not Jewish) but you may find friends and family of the deceased talking and laughing and seemingly having a good time, the idea being that you share memories and celebrate the life of the person who passed.
      Of course, the only tiny difference is that we (Irish) do that stuff in a bar or pub.

      Thank you so much, yg17.  Food and memories appear to be the common bond for those who love the living and the dead.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:20:06 PM PDT

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      •  Well (12+ / 0-)

        They are the two cuisines that do corned beef well!

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. NYC's Progressive/Reform Blog

        by mole333 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:36:07 PM PDT

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      •  Food rules for Reform Jews (13+ / 0-)

        I wouldn't worry so much about kosher, as most Reform Jews would at most do kosher-style.  Just stay away from any food that is inherently not kosher.  That said, you can't possibly offend if you bring kosher food.  Here are the major rules to be aware of.

        No pig.  That means your bacon-wrapped hors d'oerves should go to the wake.  There isn't a commandment against eating pig.  The rule is no land animal unless it both has cloven hooves and chews its cud.  Cow, sheep, deer, are kosher.  Horse is not because hoofs are not split.  Pig is not because it doesn't chew the cud.

        No shellfish. Sea creatures are restricted to fish with both fins and scales.  There is no universal NEVER EAT sea creature equivalent to pig.  Pig is the big no-no to Jews because historically they were forced to eat it to prove they had converted from Judaism.  For some reason everyone thinks of shrimp first as the don't eat for seafood,  but they're all equally treife. (Unkosher)

        Fun fact: the blue dye in ancient prayer shawls came from some kind of oyster or mussel.  The prohibition on shellfish may have been not only to avoid health issues in filter feeders but also to keep the priests' trade secret on how they made the dye.  The source of the blue dye was discovered only in the last ten years.

        Don't mix dairy and meat.  Unless you are specifically told they are serving a meat or dairy meal, just avoid food that has both meat and dairy in the same dish.  Yes, that means pizza with meat topping is out.

        I have found that during shiva, the family reverts to rules they learned in Hebrew School and haven't followed for 40 years.  :)

        •  This diary should be archived (5+ / 0-)

          for future use for all of us who have no or semi-no clue.

          My challah is pure genius -- but obviously not baked in a pure kosher oven.  No problem with this family.  I do make rugelach and hamentaschen and do not believe in baking the latter just for Purim since this is the first year I knew when it occurred.  

          I love your fun fact about prayer shawls.

          I'm trying to think what the Irish don't eat -- except during Lent on Fridays -- and who the heck doesn't love fish?????

          " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

          by gchaucer2 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:29:36 PM PDT

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        •  Also, given the time of year, don't forget the (6+ / 0-)

          prohibition against leavening. I start removing it a week to ten days prior to Passover because I work and its really hard to do everything at the last minute. I stop buying stuff I don't want in the house 2 weeks to 10 days prior and try to eat up what's there.

          I don't know that I'd care so much about it if my parents had just passed away.

          And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

          by TheFatLadySings on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:56:55 PM PDT

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        •  Small quibble (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madhaus, ladybug53

          Actually, the pig is specifically mentioned as treif (Leviticus 11:7).  But it's just because it doesn't meet the criteira you specified, as noted in the same verse, so it' an example of a category rather than a category in itself.  I've not heard the theory before that the pig was ID'd as the big no-no because it was the animal Jews were forced to eat to prove apostasy.  Interesting.  I do remember later, non-biblical texts (e.g. Maccabees, non-canon for Jews, but of course the events are remembered at Hanukkah and come largely from the accounts in Maccabees) specifically mentioning sacrifice of pigs in the Temple by pagan conquerors. That may have something to do with it too.

          "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison

          by gharlane on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:44:02 PM PDT

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    •  my mom has said for years (9+ / 0-)

      that she wishes someone had run a tape recorder at the house after her father died, because so many good stories were told by his friends, including a bunch she had never heard. My grandfather was a dear man and a bit of a prankster, so there was a lot of laughter. After the funeral for my dad's mother, I was cornered by a well-meaning family friend who didn't really know her very well. I appreciated his kind intentions, but it was killing me, because I wanted to hear more of the stories that my aunts and uncles were telling. These were after Catholic funerals; seems a fairly universal reaction to a person's death.

      •  Thanks for bringing up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheFatLadySings, ladybug53

        a great idea -- and one which my good friend has had, bought the tape recorder and yet never taped his mother.

        Our memories will fade as well -- there are so many family stories that will be lost without writing them down or recording.

        " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

        by gchaucer2 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:07:13 PM PDT

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    •  Shiva is a time of family gathering (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2, raboof, ladybug53

      I remember reading somewhere that, unlike a wedding (bris or bnei mitzva), you don't need an invitation to attend a funeral.  I got to know my husband's extended family through funerals and shiva.  I suspect that a number of the cousins only saw each other at funerals and used shiva to catch up.

      A warning about Jewish funerals - traditionally they take place within 24 hours of the death.  In my husband's family, critical funeral information is disseminated by an informal phone tree - each person who hears, spreads the word to everyone they know.  If you want to attend the funeral, you may need to let the family know ahead of time so they contact you right away.

      Please, call me "Loris."

      by s l o w loris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:46:01 PM PDT

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      •  24 hours unless there's a holiday. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53

        A friend of mine died on the first day of Passover. Scheduling his funeral turned out to be a nightmare.

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 05:16:12 AM PDT

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        •  Also the shiva had to be delayed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53

          but the family announced a "this isn't a shiva because of the holiday but we'll be home if you want to visit". They had the formal shiva as soon as the Passover week had ended.

          The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

          by raboof on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:00:40 AM PDT

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