QUESTION: My friend is going to a shivah and she said she thinks she’s supposed to bring something, but she doesn’t know what or why. I was hoping you could give me a short explanation to pass on to her, as well as what is done during a shivah visit.
Shivah is from the Hebrew word shevah, which means the number 7. It is the week of deepest mourning after the funeral of an immediate family member. People on a shivah visit extend their condolences to the family, share memories and stories they have about the deceased, and generally don’t stay for more than 10-30 minutes. It’s customary (but certainly not required) to bring food to the house of shivah. This is for at least two reasons:
1. A meal of condolence immediately following the interment service at the cemetery is customary.
2. So the family has meals throughout the week of shivah and can focus on processing their grief rather than worrying about cooking meals.
Have a question? Email it to ShalomChapel@aol.com, or mail it to Ask the Director, c/o Shalom Memorial Chapel, 1100 New London Ave., Cranston, R.I. 02920.