The first, most intense stage of mourning is called shiva, a Hebrew word meaning “seven”. It refers to the seven-day period of formalized mourning by the immediate family of the deceased following the funeral.
Shiva begins immediately after the funeral as the mourners gather together at home, cut off from the normal routine of their lives which death has interrupted.
A shiva candle will be provided by Bet-Olam, and is lit when the mourners arrive home from the burial. There is a prayer to be said on page 619 of the Mishkan T’filah, World Union Edition, prayer book. The candle is allowed to burn for the entire shiva period. Care should therefore be taken to leave it in a safe location. One of our Rabbis should be consulted regarding the details of shiva practices.
Jewish tradition is to have the community gather at the mourners’ home and accompany them in their mourning. This tradition has evolved into the “minyan” which literally means ‘quorum’, which represents the community, family and friends who gather together to remember the deceased and to comfort the mourners.
A minyan is usually held at least on the night of the funeral; on occasion some will host three nights or even the traditional six (waking up on the seventh day is considered sufficient to ‘complete’ the seventh day of the shiva).
The minyan consists of the evening prayers, as well as a short memorial service, a eulogy and the mourner’s Kaddish. The minyan can be an additional opportunity to mourn, but also to remember and to celebrate the life of your loved one. It is also a little easier for the mourners to talk about their loved one at the minyan than it is at the funeral itself.
Often friends will bring food, or the family may choose to cater the event.
Although it is appropriate to do it in the home of a family member, where memories of the deceased abound, the minyan may also be held at the synagogue by arrangement with Bet-Olam and your Rabbi.
Shloshim (thirty) ends on the morning of the thirtieth day after the funeral. It marks the end of the traditional formal mourning period. The period from the end of shiva to the end of shloshim is one of transition from deep bereavement to resuming life’s usual routine. Again, a Rabbi should be consulted regarding the details of shloshim practices.
Throughout the first month of mourning, your loved one’s name will be read out as part of our weekly Shabbat services at all Progressive synagogues –