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Who Should Sit Shiva?

Shiva is the period of intense mourning that follows the death of a Jewish person. Though some mourning practices are available to all those who knew the deceased person, this particular ritual is only observed by a select few.

How Shiva is Observed

The Shiva mourners are the direct family of a deceased Jewish person. This includes their spouse, parents, siblings, and children. It’s typically observed in the home of either the deceased’s spouse or parents, starts immediately after the funeral, and lasts for seven days.

During these seven days, a hand washing station is placed outside the front door, and is used to symbolically wash impurities from the hands upon entering the home. There will be a meal of condolence, or a meal of consolation called Seudat Havra’ah served to the family by friends and loved ones, as well as several prayer services during which Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for mourning) is recited.

Additionally, all of the mirrors in the home are covered so that the mourners can focus on their spiritual grieving, and a Shiva candle is lit, which remains lit until the end of the Shiva period.

How You Can Help a Family in Shiva

The friends and loved ones of a family in Shiva make all the difference. If you are not directly related to the deceased, then your job is to support the family in their time of need.

As mentioned, this support can come in many forms. You may choose to help prepare the home for Shiva, organize the Seudat Havra’ah, pay a Shiva call to do some small chore for the family, participate in a prayer service, or offer a Shiva gift basket. Whatever you do, it should be done with the intention of lightening the social and mundane burdens the family faces to allow them to grieve in peace.


Looking to offer a Shiva gift basket to a loved one in mourning? Kosherline wants to help. With a full array of professionally-curated Kosher gift baskets including easy-to-serve nuts, fruits, and sweets, you’re sure to find exactly what you need to express your sympathy.

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