Skip to comments.Shiva Call
Posted on 05/17/2004 2:10:56 PM PDT by SJackson
This morning, I paid a shiva call to Sara and Michael Newman's house, the parents who lost their wonderful son Eitan when his tank went over a bomb in the Gaza Strip last week. They buried him last Thursday, after his comrades, under constant fire from terrorists, combed the dangerous streets to bring his holy remains and those of his comrades home.
As I neared the Newman home, I saw army men standing in small circles, talking quietly. Some wore beards and knitted skullcaps. Friends, religious and non-religious, came and went in and out of the Newman home, fulfilling one of Judaism's most honored rituals of comforting mourners for seven days after the funeral.
Sara and her husband sat on low chairs, as is the custom, surrounded by friends. I introduced myself.
"I want to talk to you..." Sara said softly.
I pulled up a chair.
"I understand that you write to many people around the world. And this is what I would like you to please tell them for me. Many people have asked what they can do, how can they help. Please tell them to go out and buy something that was made in Israel. That's all. Just help us, we are going through such hard times. Everybody can do that."
I felt quick tears come to my eyes, wondering at this woman who sat clear-eyed and full of courage and faith, her mind focused on what else she could do to help the country she loved, a woman who had just given her country and her people her handsome, bright, intelligent, wonderful young son.
Who had given her son.
I nodded, wordlessly.
I told her about a conversation I had just had with my own son, who is being drafted in November.
"Maybe you could go into anti-aircraft," I urged him. "Your brother did that, and your father."
There was a slight pause at the other end of the line. "Look Mom," he said patiently, "I might as well tell you the truth. I'm not going into the army to strike a pose. I'm going because I want to do something, protect people from getting killed by terrorists. And the only way to do that is to be a foot soldier." He wanted to go into Givati, he said. The same unit as Eitan Newman.
"This is how we brought them up," I told Sara Newman. "I'm very proud of him. And I'm terrified."
She put her hand over mine. "When my son died, he was surrounded by people he loved and respected and trusted. He was on his way back from a mission he'd successfully completed. He died instantly, with no pain. I would rather he went that way then stabbed in the back by some skinhead far away from home."
Would I please, she urged me, send out her message?
When I left the Newman home, I walked up the winding stone staircase that one finds in Jerusalem's hilly neighborhoods. A cool wind was blowing, and the sky seemed strangely cloudy for spring. As I reached the top, I saw a friend coming down the road. She too was on her way to the Newmans. I hugged her, and both of us wept.
And now I am home at my computer, doing what Sara Newman asked me to do. I'm asking you to please go out a buy something from Israel. If you can't find it in your stores, you can find it on-line, I'm sure.
And if you'd like to send Sara and Michael some words of comfort, please send it to email@example.com.
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
Great post! Great people.
I'm sure a Jew will answer you better, but here's my understanding:
Sitting shiva is the special mourning one does for a Jew who has died, honoring him and comforting the ones left behind.
Pronounces "Shiv-uh," not "Shee-va" like the Indian god.
(excerpt from http://www.jewfaq.org/death.htm)
The next period of mourning is known as shiva (seven, because it lasts seven days). Shiva is observed by parents, children, spouses and siblings of the deceased, preferably all together in the deceased's home. Shiva begins on the day of burial and continues until the morning of the seventh day after burial. Mourners sit on low stools or the floor instead of chairs, do not wear leather shoes, do not shave or cut their hair, do not wear cosmetics, do not work, and do not do things for comfort or pleasure, such as bathe, have sex, put on fresh clothing, or study Torah (except Torah related to mourning and grief). Mourners wear the clothes that they tore at the time of learning of the death or at the funeral. Mirrors in the house are covered. Prayer services are held where the shiva is held, with friends, neighbors and relatives making up the minyan (10 people required for certain prayers).
I am going to Israel in October.
It will be my first trip to that amazing little miracle of a country.
I will buy many things, I am sure.
But mostly I know I will gaze in awe at what these wonderfully resolute and chosen people have built.
Thank you for this post.
for some reason the trailing ) became part of the url.
Jewish law requires that close relatives of a deceased person sit shiva for seven days and sets forth very detailed instructions for their conduct. Visitors to the house of mourning also are expected to observe certain guidelines for "nichum avelim," or comforting mourners.
1. Delay your visit until after burial. Jewish tradition holds that before interment, the grief of the bereaved is so intense that it precludes consolation by even close friends. Following the funeral, though, feel free to visit as often as you like, especially if you are a close friend of the family.
2. Avoid visiting on Shabbat (Friday at sundown through Saturday at sundown), as Jewish law prohibits sitting shiva on Shabbat.
3. Bring no flowers or gifts with you; instead, you may want to give a donation to the deceased's favorite charity or to a synagogue fund established in his or her memory.
4. Enter the living room with the friend or family member who met you at the door. Wait for the mourner to speak before you say anything. After that, a simple "I'm sorry," accompanied by a hug or a firm handshake is all you need to say.
5. Listen to what the mourner wants to say and respond accordingly. Most likely he or she will want to reminisce about the deceased, but if the topic is yesterday's stock market closings or tomorrow's weather forecast, just follow along.
6. Don't feel obliged to stay more than half an hour or so.
7. Write a note to the bereaved if you can't visit in person. If you were close to the deceased, phone calls also are usually much appreciated.
Tips: Because Jewish terms are translations from the Hebrew, spellings vary. For instance, the seven-day period of mourning can be correctly spelled shiva, shivah or shiv'a.
For many Jews, one of the most meaningful gestures you can make is to plant a tree in Israel in the deceased's memory through the Jewish National Fund.
If you are a close friend or neighbor of the family, you probably will want to provide food for the seudat havra'ah, the meal served to mourners when they return from the cemetery. You'll find detailed information on this and other aspects of shiva in many books, including the one we've listed.
I've never seen anything in stores imported from Israel. Does anyone have links to online stores?
Its much more somber than wakes I've attended, particularly for the mourners, with a number of prohibitions in placed, among them covered mirrors, prohibitions on bathing, haircuts, new clothes, business relationships, sexual relationships and limited time spent away from the home. Of course in practice, it's not always that was, and many sit Shiva for only one to three days rather than seven.
I'll try to post some links later.
"I've never seen anything in stores imported from Israel. Does anyone have links to online stores?"
If your grocery store has a special section for kosher food, you will probably find that many items are made in Israel.
There are many food items, but they are sometimes not easy to find.
Most big box stores like Meijer, Super WalMart, and the like have a kosher section. Alot of the items are not really kosher, but almost all of them are imported from Israel.
I enjoy the soups that come in the long flat bags, and I use the boullion exclusively.
The crackers are good, potato pancakes too. Never quite found a taste for the whitefish in a jar tho. The small packages of tea cookies are great too.
There are tons of food items, just call some local grocery stores and ask if they have a kosher section. Like I said, almost all of it is imported.
Lotsa noodles also.
Can't remember the brand names off the top of my head.
< I must admit I find it a bit sad that there is no common way to observe a person's death in America. Yes there is a funeral but there is not much in common after that. The great melting pot has not come to terms with a common response to these events. It makes me feel that there is NOT an American culture. >
Like most things American,it's usually per religion or region. Common with my religion, Baptist, we have a viewing (a scheduled visitation) which can be somber or sometimes a bit humerous when we remembr a certain story. Then a funeral and burial.
Regional: the community sends food over to the home for all the visitors and family from out of town, to keep the family from having the cooking chore. My favorite food brought over during a period of mourning: pinto beans and cornbread. It really hit the spot.
I've been down the kosher aisle. I should look at the labels of things I purchase anyway. I make my own potato pancakes, but would be willing to try the mix. most of this stuff is made in the US, however. I'm in Southern Ca. The stores focus more on Hispanic and Asian food products in my neck of the woods.
I was wondering what is actually imported from Israel? Would this actually help them out? Hey, couldn't hurt. We all buy noodles, soup mix, and bullion :-)
Here's a list - from a site in NorCal.
If there is a Jewish Federation office in your nearest big city, call and ask...
Here are some places in San Diego
and Los Angeles:
Might want to check out these places too
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