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Shiva and the Mourning Period

AVEL- (mourner) immediately following the burial, the Onen is now referred to as an AVEL.   Immediately following the burial, the Avel (mourner) begins the period of Avelut (mourning).  This is the 7-day period of Shiva.

AT THE HOUSE OF SHIVA – at the house of Shiva, a seven- day candle is lit (without a blessing) immediately upon returning from the cemetery.  It burns for the entire Shiva period.

SEU’DAT HAV’RA’AH – It is a mitzvah for the mourners to partake of a “Meal of Consolation” upon their return from the burial service.  This simple meal should be provided and prepared by relatives and friends.

It should be the concern of family, friends and the community that the mourners be provided with meals during the Shiva period.

The mirrors are covered in a house of mourning.  The mourners sit on low chairs and do not wear leather footwear.

The JCCP/CBT will provide the special chairs for the Shiva home and Siddurim for the Minyamin.

SHIVA MINYAN– Services should be held daily at the house of the mourner.

The Religious Committee of our Congregation arranges for these services.

SHIVA VISITS – It is a mitzvah to visit the bereaved during the Shiva period.  Such visits should be sensitive and compassionate and should not become burdensome to the mourners.  The purpose of these visits is to comfort the mourners, not to socialize.  Levity is out of place at the house of mourning.  It is helpful to the family to talk about the deceased and to call to mind fond recollections of the deceased.

Upon the completion of the period of Shiva it is customary for a friend or relative to escort the mourners out of the house and to walk together for a short distance.

SH’LOSHIM – the 30-day period of mourning, includes the seven days of Shiva.  Upon the completion of the week of Shiva, the mourner returns to everyday life and work. 

One of the most – sacred obligations of mourners for parents, is the recitation of the daily Kaddish in the Synagogue during the 11 months of mourning. For all other relatives, we recite the Kaddish for 30 days.

Our Congregation takes pride in its Daily Minyan mornings and evenings.  Many mourners from other Congregations who do not have their own Daily Minyan come to our Chapel for Services. Click here for our Daily Minyan Schedule

When friends ask the mourner, “What can I do to Help” one positive suggestion is to support the Daily Minyan with your attendance, if not on a regular basis, then occasionally.  This demonstrates your concern for the mourners and respect for the deceased.

There is a tradition to visit the grave upon the completion of the Shiva period.  It is also traditional to visit the grave upon the completion of the period of Sh’loshim.  The grave may be visited on the Yahrzeit and before certain holidays.

When visiting the cemetery, it is customary to recite Psalms or readings which are appropriate (Psalms 22, 90 & 91 and the prayer El Malei Rachamim).  We also place a stone on the gravesite to indicate that a visit was made.

YAHRZEIT– It is sacred tradition observed through the ages to commemorate the Yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death of a loved one.  We thus show our love and respect for our beloved deceased ones.  The Yahrzeit is observed by the kindling of a Yahrzeit candle at home, on the eve before the anniversary date.  The Yahrzeit is also observed by attending Synagogue services and saying Kaddish, and by offering charity in the name of the deceased.

YIZKOR– is the special Memorial Service which is conducted four times a year: on Yom Kippur, on Sh’mini Atzeret (the last day of the Sukkot), on the last day of Pesach, and on the second day of Shavuot.  In this Service, we memorialize our beloved deceased in prayer, and we offer Tzedakah (charity) in their names.  It is Traditional to kindle a Yahrzeit lamp on the eve before Yizkor days.

For Further guidance and questions in these matters, please consult Rabbi Weiner 201-262-7691.