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What homecooked meals are best to bring to Jewish home during Shiva (period of mourning)?

I'm looking for some ideas for a kosher meal to bring to my friend's parent's house. They practice Conservative Judaism if that is relevant. Any threads I've searched have recommended bringing store-bought food but I'd rather bring something homemade. Preferably something pareve (no meat/dairy) that isn't too acidic (my friend has a condition, no tomatoes/oj). My first idea was a Spanish Tortilla, but I feel like there has to be something more traditional/flavorful.

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  1. Please check with a good friend of theirs. A conservative friend of mine does not want anyone bringing homemade food for religious occasions unless they maintain a true Kosher kitchen. That is why so many recommend store-bought foods.

    1 Reply
    1. re: travelerjjm

      Ditto that. Even if the parents don't strictly observe dietary laws there may be other family members who do, so they may have a desire to maintain consistency. Store-bought is rarely an insult in such cases.

    2. Here are some Kosher restaurants you could order from down the shore: http://jerseyshore.metromix.com/facet...

      Google "kosher central new jersey". There's quite a bit to choose from.

      1. If you go kosher deli route, think finger food", something that could be picked up with a napkin - small potato knishes for example. You could bring a nice fruit plate arranged on a disposal platter/tray.

        1. Ditto to all the above - although I can understand your desire to put some love and effort into your preparation - if they are "kosher" then making something in a non-kosher kitchen would not be appreciated by them. Of course, if you can find out if Kosher matters at all - and if it doesn't - for not all Jewish families are kosher - then you can cook or bake to your heart's content!
          I am sure, just by your presence, and your desire to comfort them, you will be appreciated greatly.

          1. I am sorry for your friend's loss. I agree with the posters above, but I would also like to recommend a food style. The Shiva week is very hectic and emotionally draining. Often, those who are sitting Shiva have very little time to eat their meals in between the visits of friends and relatives. I have found that soup is greatly appreciated as it is a filling snack to help fill the belly when time is short. Also, sometimes the mourners do not have the same interest in food as they normally do so soup can nourish without being overwhelming. Fresh bread and spreads are also appreciated. I agree about fruit platters. Bagels and lox/tuna platters are also often found at Shivas.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cappucino

              Indeed that is the reason why food is brought in the first place; it's not for the visitors, it's for the mourners, who if left to their own devices will probably not feel up to the effort of preparing food for themselves. Thus soup is a great idea.

              1. re: zsero

                It's been a decade since we sat shiva for my father, but what stands out in my memory is a huge bowl of fresh green salad that my cousins brought over as part of a meal. So much shiva food is heavy and starchy--lots of kugels and pastas, not to mention sweets of all sorts--that it was a major treat to have fresh green vegetables. Not necessarily everyone's cup of tea, but I was extremely grateful that my relatives thought a little bit out of the box. So consider a salad or a tray of crudites, in addition to or instead of the other items suggested.

            2. Just a thought, it might be nice to send over a few bottles of juice or iced tea - frequently the beverage end of eating is forgotten during these times, and the last thing they want to do is run out to the store. Maybe some fresh milk so they can have cereal in the morning.

              Another idea is some Ben and Jerry's - perfect comfort food, and kosher!

              1. Separating out the kashruth issues that others have dealt with, a house in mourning want comfort food. Simple, filling, familiar things.

                Hours in a house sitting shiva can be irregular, as can appetites. A mourner who isn't in the mood to eat all day may raid the fridge at midnight.

                Study dishes that wait patiently on the stove and reheat gracefully are very practical, think pot roast.

                Or cold dishes, like a good chicken salad.

                Cold poached salmon is always nice, if you want parve.

                1. Unfortunately, I sat shiva last year and it's exhausting. People were kind enough to bring kugels, etc. , but we didn't have the energy to heat them up. Basically we grabbed food in between people coming to visit.
                  What we appreciated the most were bagels, egg salad, tuna salad, cream cheese etc as well as cut up fruit. Things that required absolutely no effort on our part . I agree that store bought is

                  1. on the few times that I unfortunately have had to observe this week, believe it or not, we enjoyed the meals that came delivered around 4-5pm so that they needed no warming, and we really enjoyed the Italian meal which was a great treat from the traditional deli platters. And BTW - the meals that come in AFTER the week of shiva were even more appreciated.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: smilingal

                      I have to agree--4-5 pm is also a good time because it's sort of between shifts of visitors. So while it's way early for dinner by most schedules, it's a good time to eat when you're sitting shiva.

                      1. re: smilingal

                        FYI - I don't know how the Conservative movement does things, but for Orthodox people, if the burial happened within the week before a major holiday, the holiday ends the shiva, even if that means it only lasts for an hour. Right now, we're in the middle of a major holiday (Succot), so if the interment was before Wednesday evening, the family would no longer be sitting shiva if they follow this practice. That doesn't mean that you can't send food, and I'm sure it'd be appreciated either way.

                        1. re: GilaB

                          Conservative Jews end the shiva for yomtov.

                          Given that most shiva meals are eaten on a stool or couch, I think soup is a terrible idea. Sandwiches and entrees that can be served at room temperature work best, imo.

                          1. re: DeisCane

                            they sit even during chol hamoed?

                            1. re: pitagirl

                              As I understand it, Conservative rabbis tend to poskin the same way other Rabbis do on almost everything. Except for a few marquee issues (mostly related to women's participatin in minyan) Conservative Judaism has not developed a different halacha. The difference is that on most issues, Conservative Jews do what they want to do no matter what the movement's or the rabbi's formal opinion is. So, knowing how a Conservative family observes something like shiva is more a question of what a particular family or a particular community has decided to do. There really isn't a normative conservative practice that I can perceive in Conservative shiva. Just Jewish families struggling to cope with grief.

                              1. re: AdinaA

                                Whether or not Conservative Jews will sit shiva through chag or what this family is doing is irrelevant. I'm sure they would appreciate not worrying about food for one meal right after a death whether they are observing the traditional restrictions of shiva or not.

                              2. re: pitagirl

                                How did you infer that they sit during chol from my post?

                        2. Last time I had to make a shiva call I did not have time to cook so I grabbed a box of coffee at starbucks and a coffee cake at Trader Joe's. Folks immediately grabbed a cup of coffee and a slice of cake instead of just putting it in the kitchen with the rest of the stuff. So I figured they liked it so that's my new go to. Many appreciate a good cup of coffee after having instant or store bought for so long, and if they don't like it they can serve it to guests.