How to Pay a Shiva Call

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How to Pay a Shiva Call

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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