“You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” (Leviticus 19:18)
Purpose of the Shiva
Following directly after the funeral, shiva is meant to provide an environment of comfort, structure, and community to the mourning family. Shiva is an invitation to the family’s community to mourn with the family and to honor the memory of the deceased.
The shiva begins upon returning to the home from the cemetery after the burial of the loved one.
Often a family representative, or shiva coordinator, is the designated individual that will do the majority of the planning and organizing for the shiva. It is customary for the family to select a shiva coordinator in order to allow the family to focus on their mourning, rather than becoming distracted and frustrated with the many aspects of shiva planning.
The coordinator is generally not an immediate family member of the deceased (a parent, child, sibling, or spouse), but may be an extended relative or close friend to the family. Generally, the family selects someone who is close to the family, who knows very well what the family’s preferences are, including the beliefs and level of observance of Jewish traditions. The coordinator is the point person for making all arrangements and is responsible for notifying friends, coordinating meals, and even collecting contributions in the form of checks, cash and credit cards from those contributing to a shiva.
Traditionally, shiva is observed for either three or seven days, beginning directly after the burial of the deceased. However, depending on the level of observance and many modern considerations the length of the shiva varies based on many factors. Most importantly, when deciding how long to sit shiva or helping to plan the shiva it is essential to take into account the mourning family’s preference and what the family deems appropriate.
Once the length of the shiva is decided, the family and the shiva coordinator selects times when the shiva home will be open for the community to call and when the services will be held. Typically this will be in the evening hours, between the hours of five and nine, with the minyan service scheduled towards the end of the shiva.
Once the calling hours are decided upon, it is important to announce the shiva details to the community. There are many mediums for distributing information about the funeral,
There are many mediums for distributing information about the funeral, burial, and shiva. Many use technology and the Internet as a common way to circulate this information including obituary and online resources to serve as a centralized location for dissemination of information. It is also customary to include a small handout for those attending the funeral service to take with them. This hand out includes the location of the shiva home, the dates and times of the shiva, as well as any special instructions for the shiva. For example, if the family would like contributions to the shiva, or donations to be made in memory of the deceased in place of condolence items, this information can be included there.
It is also customary to include a small handout for those attending the funeral service to take with them. This hand out includes the location of the shiva home, the dates and times of the shiva, as well as any special instructions for the shiva. For example, if the family would like contributions to the shiva, or donations to be made in memory of the deceased in place of condolence items, this information can be included there.
In addition to preparing religious customs, there are logistical preparations in line with hosting the community that the organizer should also consider.
This list is more exhaustive. It includes ordering folding chairs, tables, paper goods, garbage bags, refreshments, and coffee, along with professional services or staff that assist during the shiva.
Lastly, a few other helpful preparations to consider when organizing the shiva are creating a door sign to place on the front door of the shiva home with visiting hours and setting out photo albums and other family mementos of the deceased in an open area where the mourners will sit.
Providing Funeral Services to the Jewish Community of South Florida
Kronish Funeral Services proudly serves the Jewish community of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties, including the cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm City, Stuart, and the surrounding areas.
Our staff is available 24 x 7 to help you with all your funeral needs.