How to Pay a Shiva Call
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Jewish tradition holds that the family of someone who dies has a period of mourning that lasts seven days. This is called Sitting Shiva. During this time the family stays home and accepts visitors who pay condolence calls, called a Shiva Call. There are some things to expect and some things that are expected of you as the visitor.
What Is Expected of You
- Pick an appropriate time, do not visit during Shabbat (the weekly holy day). Ask friends of the family when to visit.
- Walk in, the door will probably be unlocked. This saves the family from getting up repeatedly.
- Wash your hands upon entering if water, a basin, and towels are provided.
- Bring food or have it sent. When you arrive take it straight to the kitchen.
- Seek out the mourner and offer a handshake or hug, let them lead the conversation.
- Feel free to talk to friends.
- Watch the time, the normal time for a Shiva Call is one hour.
What to Expect
- A tall candle is usually burned for the seven days in rememberance of the person who died.
- Mirrors are draped with cloth as the mourners are not concerned with their appearance.
- It is traditional for family members to wear a torn piece of clothing or ribbon to show how their heart is torn.
- Members of the family may be sitting on the floor to symbolize how they have been brough down by the loss. They may be wearing socks or slippers.
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