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

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  •  Not all jews follow the conventions for shiva (10+ / 0-)

    You should check with the family directly about what their observance level will be.  One branch of my husband's family is conservative, and they are all over the map when it comes to shiva observances.  The gatherings usually involved huge amounts of shmoozing among family members, with very little observance of the forms I had been coached on by observant friends.  I remember on one occasion being pulled over to the elderly widow by her elderly sister and urged to "cheer her up."  At another shiva, most of the younger family members were outside playing T-ball. My approach has been to meet whoever I was engaged with at their level of interaction - if they were sharing funny family stories, I would listen and laugh along with them, ask questions, etc.

    There was always tons of excellent kosher deli food - I believe it was ordered by the family hosting the shiva, which would be a violation of convention.  I always brought a bowl of citrus fruit because the peel means that  it could be eaten by people of almost any level of kosher observance.  Whether or not the hosts keep kosher, home-made foods from non-kosher kitchens can be an issue if there will be people attending who do keep kosher.

    If you go to the funeral, part of the graveside service may involve shoveling dirt onto the coffin.  Anyone can do that.  My inlaws were always touched that I participated.

    My dad was on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during the war, so your story of how your dad met his friend touched my heart even more than usual.

    Please, call me "Loris."

    by s l o w loris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:44:36 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for being (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      s l o w loris, mrsgoo, ladybug53

      part of the grand teaching community here.  I've learned so much tonight.  Many traditions are universal -- just basic human stuff that we sense we need.  

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

      by gchaucer2 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:11:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Food is ordered by the family (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      for the gathering immediately after the burial. After that, it's the non-immediate family and close friends who take care of actual meals (rather than fruit & sweets). At least that was the case in my conservative (Judaism, not politics!) family.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:15:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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