Feb 21, 2011

A Reader Request: Shiva

One of my readers sent me this and asked that I post it anonymously -- it's sort of a followup to yesterday's Shiva post. Please spread it around and let me know if you have any answers!

My father is not doing well, and as part of preparing for the inevitable, I'm looking for an online guide to "what to expect when your Orthodox Jewish coworker experiences a death in the family." Something geared to non-jewish completely ignorant bosses that explains why we dont do flowers at funerals and not to bring gifts of food to shiva (which they don't have to come to anyway). And that explains why I'm growing a beard for a month and why I have to leave every day for 30 minutes to catch mincha.  
The online resources I've found so far are general introductions to Jewish mourning customs, but arent really geared to a professional situation where I'm trying to save people trouble and/or social faux pas. Thanks!


Tamara said...

Anita Diamant's book on mourning. It explains the flowers thing amongst other great and valuable information. My husband bought it for me when my mom died.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

From Twitter:

Tell them to watch this video http://www.aish.com/atr/v/What_is_Shiva.html and visit www.aish.com search #the week of shiva

Unknown said...

Terribly sorry to hear about your father. You might want to look at The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Rabbi Maurice Lamm.

Also, you have enough on your plate to worry about -- so don't stress about your co-workers' faux pas if they do bring flowers and food -- it's their way of showing you that they care. If this really is a stressful point for you, consider having an all-office email sent out when your father turns 120 yrs indicating that in lieu of flowers and gifts, you prefer a contribution to be made to the ??? charity.

Much luck to you during this very difficult time.

Batya said...

Leora wrote some stuff about shiva.
He should be very clear, even in writing. That until -date, he is forbiddne to shave, so people shouldn't think he's having a breakdown.
Have an email sent to all the people he works with saying that thye aren't obligated to visit, and if they visit please don't bring anything, no flowers, no food. ANd hours and days shiva guests will be received.

Bracha said...

I sat shiva for my father less than 2 months ago, and the experience taught me several important lessons on how to be a good shiva visitor in the future.

1. Don't stay too long! A 15-20 minute visit is enough (if you've come from far away, you can make that 1/2 hour). I found that some people (and not necessarily those I was closest to) parked themselves for an hour (or more!) and I felt that I needed to "entertain" them by talking. Also, there are usually other people waiting for their turn to sit down and speak to the avel. If you're a very good friend, you can talk after the shiva.

2. It's ok to leave someone alone when they're sitting shiva. If you're the only visitor, you don't need to wait for the next visitor to arrive. The person who is sitting would very likely appreciate a break with no visitors to go to the bathroom, eat, or just think!

Shiva is exhausting - emotionally and physically! Everyone should keep that in mind when making a shiva visit (and don't stay too late at night, either. I'd say not later than 9:30 or 10 at the very, very latest.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Leora's guide is AMAZING. Thank you for posting that!

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