Who Sits Shiva?

Sitting Shiva is a Jewish mourning tradition that is observed by immediate family members of the deceased. This includes parents, children, siblings, and spouses. During Shiva, family members gather in the home of the deceased to mourn and receive condolences from visitors. It is customary for those sitting Shiva to refrain from work, wear torn clothing, and follow certain customs related to mourning. The duration of Shiva typically lasts for seven days.

Is it appropriate to observe shiva for an aunt?

Any other relatives, even if we feel very close to them such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, or in-laws, are not officially mourned nor is shiva observed for them. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for those people to wear black ribbons or to cut their garments.

What are the traditional regulations for sitting Shiva?

When sitting Shiva, many traditional restrictions are observed, such as avoiding wearing of new clothes, refraining from shaving for men, abstaining from washing clothes, and not bathing. These regulations reflect the mourning period and its commitment to remembering and honoring the deceased.

What is the purpose of sitting shiva?

Sitting shiva is a way of providing an opportunity to focus on the grieving process. It is a meaningful ritual where the mourners are brought low after the death of a loved one, and usually the grieving family stay close to the floor in order to honor the deceased. This practice is a way of acknowledging and expressing the loss, allowing the mourners to express their sorrow and receive comfort from loved ones.

From what origin does the practice of sitting Shiva come?

The practice of sitting Shiva originates from the Book of Job, where Job’s friends “sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights” during a period of mourning. This was a symbol of humility and respect for the deceased, and required those observing to turn couches or beds over and sit on the ground.

Is it customary for siblings to observe shiva?

Yes, it is traditional for siblings to observe shiva for a parent, spouse, child, or sibling who has passed away. During shiva, the period of mourning includes Shabbat, which does not bring the mourning period to a close.

Is it necessary for adopted children to observe the traditional shiva period?

According to Jewish custom, one is not required to sit shiva for step parents, step children, adoptive parents or adopted children. If one wishes to make an exception, they should consult a Rabbi for guidance. Additionally, friends of the deceased are not obligated to observe shiva, regardless of their relationship with the deceased. Typically, the shiva period is observed in the house of mourning, which is the residence of the mourner.

Is anyone allowed to attend a shiva?

In Judaism, a shiva is a religious event held after the funeral which is also a social event. Non-Jews are indeed welcome to attend this event.

Is it necessary to wear black to a shiva?

You don’t have to wear black to a shiva house, but you should make sure that your clothing is respectful. Even if your visit is brief, it is important to show respect to the family by paying your respects.

Are there any food and beverage restrictions at a Shiva?

Following the initial meal of condolence, mourners at a Shiva are not limited as to what they can eat and drink. While some may choose to abstain from anything that could be associated with joy or celebration, such as wine, this is not mandatory.

Is it possible to observe Shiva for 3 days?

Although traditionally a seven day observance, many families choose to observe Shiva for a shorter period such as 1, 2 or 3 days. This duration is normally decided upon and announced at the funeral. Therefore, it is possible to observe Shiva for 3 days.