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Apr 3, 2009 07:52 PM

Food appropriate for a shiva

A friend just let us know that her elderly father just died and we are invited to the shiva tomorrow night (Saturday). We are not jewish and are wondering about that tradition. From a bit of reading, I understand that it is traditional to made memorial donations and to bring food. Our friend does not keep kosher and is not highly traditional.

What is appropriate? Would it be good to make some cookies? Some really nice dried fruit and nuts? Any other thoughts?

Thanks much!

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  1. Me again. One more thing I forgot to mention. This shiva will be at a temple, and not at a family member's home.

    Does that make a difference? Is food still appropriate? If so, what?

    4 Replies
    1. re: karykat

      the traditional sitting shiva is something that takes place over several days and in that case bringing food is appropriate. are they having some kind of memorial at the temple?

      i'm not familiar with shiva just taking place at the temple. perhaps they are shortening the traditional bereavement period? i wouldn't think it's proper to bring food to the temple -- one of the tenets of shiva is that friends and family are "comforters" -- making easier the lives of the mourners. them having to haul platters or trays home doesn't do that.

      i can't see anything wrong with a discreet visit the next day with some home-cooked food. do what feels right. your friend will appreciate your care.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Yes, the memorial says the observance will be a shiva but it is at a temple not at one of the children's homes. That's part of what was throwing me off. I didn't know if it made sense to bring food to a temple rather than a home.

        I like your idea of dropping off something the next day, maybe. Would something in particular be approrpriate?

        1. re: karykat

          Those sitting shiva are often inundated with sweets--trays of cookies, cakes, pastries. Real food, something the family can have for a meal, is usually appreciated. A roasting pan of baked chicken, brisket, some sort of casserole, the kind of dish that will keep for a few days and can be easily reheated for an easy lunch or dinner would be good choices. But this sounds like a somewhat unusual situation. It may be that they will not be receiving friends and family at home and I wouldn't bring food to a synogogue. If you were not planning to pay a shiva call at the home, a donation in the deceased's name is thoughtful and entirely appropriate.

          1. re: JoanN

            Agree. Make a donation and don't bring food. Sometimes when an elderly person dies there are not that many friends or relatives nearby to have a traditional shiva for the full week, so there is no reason to inundate anyone with food. Plus, you wouldn't bring food to a temple anyway.

    2. Very helpful advice. Thanks much.

      1. First of all, condolences.

        As others have said, Shiva is normally at the home and food is normal. Please remember that flowers are not a good idea.

        With Shiva at the Synagogue on Saturday night the funeral was probably Friday. Jfood would check if there is also a Shiva at the home Sunday night as well. That might be the case. If yes then your ideas are very good.

        If the Synagogue shiva is the only night jfood likes the idea of the donation. This could go to the Synagogue in Memory of your friend's father or to their favorite charity. Many times in the obituary in the paper the family might state, Donations to XYZ Charity are appreciated.

        Non-traditional people seem to gain a traditional respect at times like this.

        1. Most synagogues will not allow outside food into the kitchen, so you probably can't bring food there. But I'd definitely think that a gift of food to the family's home would be good. Just about anything comforting and tasty would be welcome. They'll get a lot of cold cuts and smoked salmon platters, so they might appreciate a home made lasagna that only needs to be baked or a pot of hearty vegetable soup. You need a little something warm and nourishing at a time like this.

          1. Condolences to your and friend the family.

            If they are having a shiva at the home, you can bring a platter of dried fruits or nuts. It's a tradition that when one visits the home of someone sitting shiva, they eat something and say a blessing in the name of the person who has passed away. A few nuts or a piece of dried fruit is perfect, because it's a small bite to eat. If you are paticularly close with this friend, you can print out the blessing in hebrew and english and bring it along with the platter.