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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Call around and find a chain store or large grocery store with a Kosher butcher. They're common in Chicago, I assume you have them out there in the sticks :>). They'll generally be in areas with a population of observant Jews, and I'm sure you'll find several aisles of Kosher products (not Coors beer or Campbell soup) much of which will be from Israel.
What a sad and powerful story. I shall pray for these young men and their families.
Now, I hope someone can answer a disturbing question for me. Why is it, after this country has shed blood for Israel (because that is what we are really doing in Iraq and Afphanistan) and have supported Israel in every way throughout its entire history, why is it that so many Jews are against George W. Bush? He has gone to the mat for Israel, yet US Jews will not suport his re-election.
Just last week my husband got into a terrible fight with a Jewish friend who assailed my husband in the street and followed him into a restaurant, chiding, "Yah, yah yah! Your President is toast...etc., etc." The man just would not quit, and my husband finally exploded and called him ungrateful and said some of the same things that I just wrote.
We left, feeling so sad, because it is probably the end of a formerly cordial friendship. And I really don't understand it. President Bush could have turned his back on Israel because he certainly does not enjoy any sizable Jewish vote. Backing Israel has meant that Bush has lost most of his Arab backing. Yet, he has not gained any Jewish backing, as far as I can see.
Thanks for the post.
First, start with that statement, which is absurd. Iraq was certainly a threat, the equal of Egypt (who we arm), Saudi Arabia (who we arm), and Syria (who we don't like), far less of a threat that Iran, which I fear Israel may soon be confronting, unless the US can pressure Israel not to. Afghanistan, you're kidding. Pakistan, with the Islamic bomb, they're perhaps a threat equal to Iran, Afghanistan is nothing.
Why would you assume American Jews vote only based on your perception of what's best for Israel. They don't, and in fact the implication, as you phrased it, will drive them to the other side. If he's looking for votes, and he wants Arab backing, he should go for it. You seem to be enunciating the "*uck the Jews, they don't vote for us" policy of the Carter and Bush I administration. It's pure un-American bigotry in my opinion.
As to your husbands friend, assaulting him in the street like that, clearly he's a jerk, you're better out without his friendship.
Now I have a moral obligation to eat your share. L'chaim!
[P.S. Genuine Gefilte fish, as opposed to Whitefish and Pike, is much tastier (although the latter isn't bad at all). Check the label. Horseradish helps too.]
Perhaps you've heard of the events of 9/11/01. They were in the papers.
But the differences are religious. Why would anyone Jewish want to give up their mourning practices to be more like, say, a Baptist's?
He does it because it is the right thing to do. No more and no less.
And your problem with Baptists would be?
The poster was bemoaning that we all don't do things the same. So what?
Nothing what-so-ever. But why bring up the Baptists?
Well, bequest, since we are there to bury al Qaeda.
If you are suffering from paranoia, try deep breathing. Not everyone is out to get you.
And welcome to FR. Unless you are a re-tread.
Just askin'. Funny thing is Christianity wasn't even brought up in the post you referenced.
Btw: No need to engage in personal attacks.
And for the record I do not engage in paranoia. Suggest you read up on projection.
So, do tell, are you a re-tread? And if so, let us know who you were and why you were nuked.
For foods from Israel, and especially wines, try Elat Market down on Robertson, or Alef Market.
...My thoughts too. Destroyer and Rebuilder, maybe?
Many Jews in this country are "culturally" liberal - their parents voted Dem, there parents' parents voted Dem, and their parents' parents' parents were card-carrying communists back in the days when intelligent, sane people could still delude themselves about the true nature of communism.
They typically hold various unexamined stereotypes about Republicans, and getting them to reexamine those stereotypes and think rationally about what the Democrat party really stands for has to first overcome generations of cultural affiliation.
My wife falls into this category - she's registered as a Dem, but is really what you could call a "DINO."
She cried when Reagan was elected in 1984, but we've been married 11 years, and she recently cast her first vote for a Republican and against a Democrat in the California recall election. Tom McClintock didn't win, but it was a big step for her. She doesn't like to shoot, but she's pro-gun. She's been known to concur that John Kerry is an idiot.
It's a long road, but she's walking it. It probably started when Columbine and my discovery of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership became my wake-up call for defending Second Amendment rights - I led, she came along.
Also, check out the Republican Jewish Coalition.
No, see some of the other comments. Shiva is '7' in Hebrew. When you 'sit shiva', you are observing the traditional mourning period immediately following burial.
OK, I accept that. So why would you attack Christian friends?
"So, do tell, are you a re-tread? And if so, let us know who you were and why you were nuked."
Not sure what a "retread is". Nor am I sure why you're allowed to post on FR based on FR guidelines that restrict attacks based on religion.
Need your help here, Bella: Is your wisdom based on knowledge, or your longevity on FR? Just curious.
...Thanks, for the explaination. My apologies for any ignorance or disrespect...
The word "seven" is "sheh-vah":
This is the derivation of the word "sabbath," from "shabbat" in the Ashkenazi pronunciation, the seventh day of creation. This is also the root of the Hebrew word for cessation, or resting.
...Thanks, have been informed...
And I was not attacking Christianity. I merely said I'd never want to give up my traditions for the ones practiced by the majority of Americans. You'll need thicker skin than that to last around here.