Sunday, August 06, 2006

Long Day

Today was a very long day.

I got up, got ready, and Jamie & I headed over to Jamie's Aunt's & Uncle's house (where Bubbie Rae used to live). We were being picked up at 11 am by Paperman's to go to the funeral.

The hard part was sitting in the room with the coffin. At one point, there was WAY too many people in there, and there were a lot of unecessary people in there as well. What made me cry the most was Jamie's sister giving the Eulogy. It was very touching. It's too bad the funeral for the rabbi was a business transaction, and he even invented stuff about Jamie's grandmother (along with grandfather too). Who does that?

After the service, we went to the cemetery, however I was not allowed into the cemetery (because I'm pregnant). (Jewish Law does not forbid pregnant women from attending a funeral or visiting a cemetery. However, many Jews believe pregnant women should not visit the cemetery due to superstition or, more specifically, belief in the evil eye (ayin hara). The basic premise of the evil eye: if we are happy, then evil spirits will harm us to change us from happy to unhappy. People who believe in the evil eye will avoid "tempting the evil eye.") Now, I am not at all superstitious, but it seems that there are a LOT of people in my family who are - so to please them, I waited by the funeral limos, and didn't step inside. I didn't want to start anything with anyone.

After the cemetery, Jamie's mom, and two uncle's started to sit shiva.

Shiva is:

In the Jewish tradition, shiva is the seven-day mourning period that begins immediately after the funeral of a loved one. The custom stems directly from the verse in Genesis in which Joseph mourns his father, Jacob, for a week.

1. Observe shiva for any of seven relatives: your father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or spouse. Other relatives may join in for some or all of the observance, but Jewish law does not mandate their participation.

2. Keep in mind that shiva always takes place in the home of the deceased or in the home of a principal mourner. If space allows, all the mourners stay in the house together.

3. Cover all the mirrors in the house and leave them cloaked for the seven-day period. This centuries-old custom began as a belief that spirits were attracted to mirrors and could be trapped there; the modern reinterpretation is that the practice discourages vanity and encourages inner reflection.

4. Place a basin of water beside the outer door so people can wash their hands, a gesture that separates the mitzvah (or duty) of honoring the dead from the mitzvah of comforting the bereaved.

5. Light a large shiva candle, also known as a ner daluk, or burning light, and keep it burning for seven days and seven nights as a symbol of the divine spark that inhabits the body.

6. Remove your shoes when you return home from the funeral and refrain from wearing leather shoes in the shiva house. You may wear cloth slippers or socks or go barefoot, which is considered a sign of being humbled by loss.

7. Eat food brought by friends and neighbors for your first meal after returning from the cemetery (called seudat havra'ah, or the meal of consolation). It is traditional to emphasize round foods to recall the cyclical nature of life. (You are not allowed to serve yourself for any meal while sitting shiva).

8. Sit low to the ground, on cushions or very low chairs, on the floor, or on special benches provided by the funeral home. This practice symbolizes being struck down by grief. (Visitors to the house sit on normal chairs and couches.)

9. Leave doors unlocked so that visitors can enter without distracting mourners with knocks or doorbells.

10. Refrain from virtually all usual activity during shiva. Jewish law prohibits mourners from cooking, running errands, attending school, shaving, wearing makeup or engaging in pleasures of any kind whether sensual, sexual, athletic or intellectual.


Because Jewish terms are translations from the Hebrew, spellings vary. For instance, the seven-day period of mourning can be correctly spelled shiva, shivah or shiv'a.

Parts of days count as full days of shiva. For instance, the day of the funeral is considered the first day, even if burial takes place in the afternoon. Traditionally, shiva ends on the morning of the seventh day, right after the shaharit, the morning prayer service


Jewish law prohibits sitting shiva on the Sabbath.

With shiva, as in virtually every other part of Jewish life, the degree to which people stick to the letter of the law varies greatly, not only among Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches of the faith, but also among individual congregations and families. Some people observe all of the steps outlined above; others observe only a few.

So that is what Shiva is. I will be there all week, as it's my mother-in-law who is sitting shiva. Jamie and I will make sure that we keep up celebrating everyone's birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, since Bubbie Rae would have wanted it that way - and would have wanted us to continue it. She was always the organizer of birthday gatherings, etc.

Upon getting home this evening, I fixed up my 2 ad's for my IPOD project due tomorrow. I didn't realize that it was the IPOD that had to be in 2 different colours. (I thought it was the 2 different ads - but apparently you could even have the 2 different colours on the same exact AD even!)

It's been a long day, and I want to crawl into bed.

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