What to Gift Those who are Mourning

You have likely had to face losing someone close to you in your lifetime. If not you are one of the lucky few. Losing a loved one is very difficult and the morning period can be one of the hardest times of your life. In the Jewish religion, they have a set period and schedule for mourning a loved one’s death. If the person you lost was a parent, sibling, or child. The first period of mourning is called shiva. 

Shiva

Shiva means seven, this makes it quite fitting that it should last for seven days. It starts as soon as the family buries their loved one and returns home. It is also referred to as a sitting shiva because the whole immediate family will come together in one house to mourn for seven days. During that time the family must refrain from doing many daily tasks that they would normally. They are not allowed to prepare any meals or leave the house unless something happens that threatens their lives or if they have to attend another shiva.

Seudat Havara’ah

When the immediate family returns home from the cemetery shiva is started by the family eating the first meal, known as seudat havara’ah. This meal can not traditionally be prepared by the family and they must rely on their community to provide this and every meal for the next 7 days. While shiva is a time of morning that allows for close friends to show their condolences to the family. Seudat havara’ah is for immediate family only and is not an event open to the public. 


There is no set menu for the first meal. It is traditional to serve bagels or some other type of bread and a boiled egg to everyone at the beginning of the meal. The egg is used to symbolize life and every immediate family member is to eat the egg and bread before consuming any other items. After the meal is complete the house will open back up to guests for the next seven days.

Common Shiva Gifts

Since the morning family is not allowed to prepare food during shiva and has to depend on their community to feed them the most common gifts are edible. It is very traditional to send baked goods and confectionary sweets. You will even find many companies that offer a selection of pre-made shiva baskets. These baskets are traditionally full of an assortment of nuts, dried fruits, and all types of confections.


Sending trays of deli sandwiches is also very traditional and sometimes you can find a local Jewish deli that even referred to them as a shiva tray. If you want to and have the available time you can even send a homemade meal. A pasta dish is a good choice because it can be easily stored and reheated. Another great option is to have a meal completely catered for the family this will make sure that they get a fresh and hot meal. 


Shiva is a hard time for any family morning the loss of a loved one is never easy. You now know the appropriate way to show your condolences when a Jewish person you know loses a loved one. Make sure to give the family their space the evening of the burial as they start shiva they will not want any outside visitors.

Show them respect and wait to stop by and show your condolences. Make sure that the shiva gifts show you care by making sure they have plenty of food to make it through the seven-day morning period. Remember all you have learned about shiva today and your Jewish friend will know that you cared enough to respect their traditions while they were mourning and that is something they will never forget.

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