comforting mourners

A shiva minyan helps to comfort and support the mourner, and to make sure that they will have a quorum of ten people to recite the Kaddish during the period of shiva. At Shaare Zedek, we help to establish shiva minyanim in coordination with the mourners. If you or someone in your life are in need of a minyan, please call the office or talk to the rabbi. We are there with you in those dark days!

Practical tips for visitors

A visitor’s main task is to just “be there” for the bereaved. You do not have to know the deceased or the mourner well -- if at all -- for your presence to help the mourners in their grieving.

It is customary to bring food to the shiva home. At Shaare Zedek, our Chesed Coordinator will arrange for food to be sent over. We bring food rather than flowers or liquor, since food stands for life, and in the midst of death, we talk of life. It is also customary to make a donation in honor of the deceased.

Just walk in. Do not ring the doorbell. Most likely, the door will be left open, eliminating the need for the mourners to answer the door. You do not have to “dress up” in order to attend a shiva minyan.

Find the mourners. Go to the mourners as soon as possible. Tradition suggests being silent, allowing the mourner to open the conversation, but you are free to greet the mourner. It is also appropriate to share a personal memory of the deceased, since memories provide comfort.  

Participate in the service. If a prayer service takes place when you are there, feel free to participate. If you are not familiar with the service, sit or stand respectfully while it is in progress.

Leaving a shiva house. When you are ready to leave, it is customary to wish the bereaved good health, strength, comfort, and other blessings. A traditional blessing is: “May the Holy One comfort you together with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”.

After the shiva ends. Mourning does not end when the mourner gets up from shiva. Even months later, or during a yahrzeit (the anniversary of a death), remember to ask the mourner how they are feeling and talk openly about the deceased.