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View Full Version : VERY OT - Need help from any Jewish members of board


smellyann
06-20-2006, 11:58 PM
We had a sudden death in the family today. My aunt left behind my three young cousins, and they are Jewish. My uncle - my late mom's brother - and the rest of us - are not, so I don't know much about the bereavement or any other customs.

I would like to get the girls something nice, but relatively inexpensive and not budget-busting to remember their mother. My husband suggested angel pendants. Is that appropriate in Judaism? Is there something that would be more so? Thanks so much in advance.

Chickysmom
06-21-2006, 01:28 AM
Sorry to hear of your family's loss. I just wanted to say that it is very thoughtful of you to be concerned about their religious beliefs when thinking of a bereavment gift.....if you do not get a response on this board perhaps you could call a local Jewish church (sorry maybe they are called something else, I mean no disrepect, just do not know). I am sure they would be happy to help you out.

Cheshire Figment
06-21-2006, 03:48 AM
Angels would NOT be appropriate. Also, do NOT send flowers to the funeral. Possible a nice framed photgraph from a family function.

Cindy B
06-21-2006, 05:27 AM
I know there is are Jewish posters, but I live nearby many Jewish families so I am very aware of customs.

(I'm not, but live near many...)

Will they sit shivah? When my workmate sibling passed on, they sat shivah for 7 days. On one specific day, the employees came and sat with them. I can't remember which day that was, and I hope others can give info on that.

No flowers

Until you hear from other posters I would search "Jewish funeral customs".

Crazy Hakim
06-21-2006, 05:58 AM
Try this link:

http://www.jdcc.org/sepoct97/doc1.htm

Ratpack
06-21-2006, 06:12 AM
Wow- that is interesting..and I am glad I read the link- very helpful. It is truly respectful of you to think about the different customs for the funeral. I would have never known about the flowers and such.

punkin
06-21-2006, 06:56 AM
I am Jewish and I am a little uncomfortable with gift giving at funerals. It's not specifically forbidden but I wouldn't do it. I doubt they will need a gift from you to remind them of their mother anyway. :confused3

What I would do is try to keep in contact with them and maybe take them to do some girlie things now that they do not have a mother.

pearlieq
06-21-2006, 06:57 AM
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Make a shiva call and bring along a fruit basket.

For something more special for the girls, maybe consider donating to a charity in the parents name. If they were interested in Israel there are several charities that will plant a tree or otherwise sustain/beautify the area in someone's honor.

JoiseyMom
06-21-2006, 07:51 AM
Gifts are not given when a Jewish person dies. The person is usually buried in a very short period of time, and the greiving period that follows is called Shiva. The immediate family sits for 7 days. They do not sit on Friday night or Saturday during the day (this is our Sabbath). Food is sent to the Shiva home. The family is not supposed to cook, so people send prepared meals from a deli or something similar. If the family is Kosher, then kosher food should be sent. Fruit baskets, cakes, cookies, all good things to bring.

I am very sorry for your loss. Depending on the age of the children, espeically if they are very young, bringing a book or quiet toy for them would not be a bad thing for them to keep busy.

If you have any other specific questions, feel free to pm me.

JoiseyMom
06-21-2006, 07:53 AM
Sorry to hear of your family's loss. I just wanted to say that it is very thoughtful of you to be concerned about their religious beliefs when thinking of a bereavment gift.....if you do not get a response on this board perhaps you could call a local Jewish church (sorry maybe they are called something else, I mean no disrepect, just do not know). I am sure they would be happy to help you out.


It is called a Synagogue.

ceecee
06-21-2006, 09:33 AM
If they are young and you are close by, offer your help to your uncle. Just stay involved in their lives and help with things they will need done. They will remember their mom and I don't think a gift would help at all. Take over a meal or dessert every so often as well.

tar heel
06-21-2006, 11:26 AM
I'm not Jewish . . .

I think the sentiment of getting the little girls a piece of jewelry or something is really good. I would not think of it as a funeral gift and would probably do it a bit later instead of now. If you want something with religious symbolism, I would try a synagogue store. Something with the mom's birthstone also might be appropriate.

My DH's aunt died when her youngest daughter was in high school, and my MIL has tried through the years to do things for her that her mother might have done. For example, she created for each of her niece's four children a handmade shawl, sweater, etc., like she did for her grandchildren.

mamaminnie
06-21-2006, 11:54 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm Jewish and I have to say that a gift like that is not appropriate. I'm not sure how religious they are but the best way to honor someone's memory is to give charity in their names.

Maybe a gift to their synagogue or a local cause (doesn't have to be Jewish) that they feel strongly about.

janets
06-21-2006, 01:14 PM
You've received pretty good advice so far.

When we sat for my father, my co-workers sent a huge platter of food to feed the family and many came and paid shiva calls. It was very thoughtful.

As for gifts, not appropriate. If this wasn't family, then making a donation to a charity in her name or perhaps planting a tree in Israel would be good. Since it's family, I'm not sure anything like that other than giving of your time and attention is necessary.

Something else to consider is that if they were members of their temple, you might want to have a plaque engraved for her. At our temple, there are plaques on the walls with names and dates for loved ones. On the anniversary of their death, the light next to the plaque is lit and your loved one's names are included during the service for that week. I know that whenever I'm in temple, I always walk over and touch my dad's. It makes me feel that much better.

And as you've heard, flowers not done either.

Sending condolences to your family on your loss.

rigs32
06-21-2006, 01:36 PM
Angels are tied to the Christian view of heaven they are NOT a part of Judaism. Very similar to giving them a cross or saint pendant to remember their Jewish mother. A nice thought, but try to redirect it.

HillPete
06-21-2006, 01:55 PM
Since this was an unexpected death of a fairly young person, there will probably be a huge number of people 'doing' for the immediate family. If you choose to send or bring food, perhaps something that can be frozen and used later when all the deli trays are gone would be a good idea. You might even go empty handed the first time you visit (they will most likely sit shiva for a week) and see what they need, then bring that item the next day. When we sat for my mom we were inundated with cookies and nothing else. My dad, DH and I were on a sugar high for the whole 7 days. A deli tray or pizza would have been nice.

So sorry for your loss.

--Hillary

smellyann
06-21-2006, 03:30 PM
Thank you for all the responses! Uh-oh, I have made a mistake. First, they are in South Florida and I am in Virginia, and I cannot make it to the funeral. My sister in NY and I ordered flowers last night to be sent to the house, not the funeral. Should I cancel the order if there is still time? I didn't know that.

If I gave the girls a necklace or something, it would be in July or August when I have a chance to get down there, not for the funeral. My own mother died when I was 7, so I have been there. They don't need help to remember her, but it would just be a gesture of love.

I will spend more time reading through everything and seeing what else I can do that is appropriate. Thank you so much for all the help and thoughts. Oh, my uncle, her husband, is not Jewish, and as I have not spent any time with them in recent years and Aunt had been sick for a year (death was not expected, though), I'm not sure how much they practiced their faith, what their customs were, whether they kept Kosher, etc. I do know they went to Hebrew school, learned the language, the two older girls had Bat Mitzvahs, etc.

offwegotoneverland
06-21-2006, 03:37 PM
Try and see if the florsit can swap the flowers for a fruit basket still...that might be worth a shot.

If your thinking later summer time for a face to face visit wait and see what comes to you.

Perhaps a photo album or frame set may be better.

Sorry for your loss.

crisi
06-21-2006, 04:07 PM
Since this was an unexpected death of a fairly young person, there will probably be a huge number of people 'doing' for the immediate family. If you choose to send or bring food, perhaps something that can be frozen and used later when all the deli trays are gone would be a good idea. You might even go empty handed the first time you visit (they will most likely sit shiva for a week) and see what they need, then bring that item the next day. When we sat for my mom we were inundated with cookies and nothing else. My dad, DH and I were on a sugar high for the whole 7 days. A deli tray or pizza would have been nice.

So sorry for your loss.

--Hillary

Remember, no meat and dairy on the same plate, keep the ham off the deli plate - if they are Orthodox, any food must come from a kosher source. Sausage pizza = pork and cheese = generally a bad idea.

(Plenty of Jews don't keep kosher, but its probably most respectful to assume that they do).

disneysteve
06-21-2006, 04:46 PM
I agree about not sending flowers but keep in mind that living plants are just fine.

simpilotswife
06-21-2006, 04:51 PM
What many people in my husband's family do is plant a tree in Israel as a memorial. The sisterhood handles it for the temple that in my ILs attend.

rigs32
06-21-2006, 05:07 PM
The fact that they've been Bat Mitzvahed means that no matter how observant they are, the girls are Jewish. It's sort of like Christians who don't attend church regularly. That said, you're not going to mortally offend them by having sent flowers if their dad was not Jewish. At least, that's my best guess. I get confused about Christian funeral rituals, but friends and family don;t dislike me for trying my best to be sympathetic.

Mouse House Mama
06-21-2006, 05:13 PM
You can call the local tample and have a tree planted in Israel in the deceased's name. It is relatively inexpensive. I did for for a friend who was Jewish when her Mom died. She thought it was a very thoughtful gift. I hope this helps and sorry for your loss. princess:

smellyann
06-21-2006, 06:51 PM
I will definitely do the tree. Is that an ASAP thing or can it be done later when I come down there? Will they be notified that it was done for them somehow nice?

disneysteve
06-21-2006, 08:06 PM
I will definitely do the tree. Is that an ASAP thing or can it be done later when I come down there? Will they be notified that it was done for them somehow nice?
When you purchase a tree, a certificate is sent indicating that a tree was purchased in memory of the person you name.

You can see the certificates and order trees here:
http://www.jnf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Trees

Gillian
06-21-2006, 09:30 PM
A tree sounds nice, but I also liked the idea of something with their mom's birthstone, like maybe simple pendants that can be worn everyday. For when you go to visit over the summer, I mean.

smellyann
06-22-2006, 05:16 AM
Thanks. Maybe I can do the tree for the anniversary or her birthday or some occasion, to let them know I'm thinking of them and remember.

mamaminnie
06-22-2006, 05:26 AM
I'm in south FL, so if you need any local help, PM me and I'll see what I can do.

You sound really sweet, to go through all this effort instead of just sending some flowers and forgetting about it.

BethR
06-22-2006, 08:32 AM
I haven't read every response, so I could have missed it, but could someone explain why you don't send flowers to the family of a deceased Jewish person?

(Please don't misunderstand me. I am not being confrontational. I'm being curious. I love learning about the traditions of various faiths.)

disneysteve
06-22-2006, 01:55 PM
I haven't read every response, so I could have missed it, but could someone explain why you don't send flowers to the family of a deceased Jewish person?

(Please don't misunderstand me. I am not being confrontational. I'm being curious. I love learning about the traditions of various faiths.)
From “The Jewish Book of Why”

Why are people discouraged from sending flowers to Jewish funerals and to houses of mourning?
According to the Talmud, the purpose of flowers, like spices, was to offset the odor of a decaying body. The practice of sending flowers to funerals was common among non-Jews, who kept their dead for longer periods before burial. Jewish law demands immediate burial, at most within three days. To encourage a distinction between the Jewish practice and the non-Jewish practice, flowers are not encouraged at funerals, but they are not forbidden by Jewish law.

punkin
06-22-2006, 02:32 PM
I'm sure Disneysteve's answer is correct, but my grandmother always said that flowers are for weddings and other happy occasions. Stones are for funerals.

JoiseyMom
06-22-2006, 04:33 PM
I'm sure Disneysteve's answer is correct, but my grandmother always said that flowers are for weddings and other happy occasions. Stones are for funerals.


Stones are not for funerals. When you go to the cemetary to visit you leave a small rock or stone on the headstone of the deceased instead of flowers. There is no headstone during a funeral, so it is not done then.

Another aspect of a Jewish funeral, is that we "bury" our own. Some families will fill the entire grave, others will take a shovel of dirt and cover the coffin.

sammielynn
06-22-2006, 06:50 PM
I hate learning during someone's time of loss but this thread has been a real education. Thanks to everyone for teaching the rest of us. I have learned so much.

BethR
06-22-2006, 07:05 PM
From “The Jewish Book of Why”

To encourage a distinction between the Jewish practice and the non-Jewish practice, flowers are not encouraged at funerals, but they are not forbidden by Jewish law.

So, it's not theological, but traditional. And it's to maintain a difference from Christianity. Interesting!

BethR
06-22-2006, 07:07 PM
Another aspect of a Jewish funeral, is that we "bury" our own. Some families will fill the entire grave, others will take a shovel of dirt and cover the coffin.

I have seen this done at Catholic funerals as well. I have never seen the grave filled, but I have definately seen a shovelful of dirt sprinkled on a coffin.

mjmcca
06-22-2006, 08:45 PM
I am Catholic but I have a lot of Jewish friends and have been to Shivas several times. A very close friend's grandmother died and my family ( me DH and kids) and my sister sent a platter of cold cuts from a Jewish deli. I went to the service for his GM and a few days later to the Shiva.


On the subject of being offended ; this same friend planted trees in Israel when my mother and then later my father died. We are Catholic but I took it in the spirit in which it was intended. When my mom died I was involved in a community group that had a lot of Jewish memebers and serveral sent things to the house , fruit baskets and the like.