When a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family suffers a loss, we want to help. This is a natural response, the urge to help in any way we can. Our hearts break for them. So, we want to contribute to making their situation a little easier, giving them strength and support. Of course, most of our brains jump directly to sending them some sort of gift. Usually, neighbors make dishes in astonishing quantities. This way, the grieving family doesn’t have to worry about food throughout their mourning.
However, if you know a family in mourning and they’re of the Jewish faith, you should take a look at a few things, first. Judaism is an ancient and globally-practiced religion with many specific customs and points of view on any topic you could imagine. But the subject of death is considerably complex. Simply put, certain gifts that we naturally assume are a good idea to send could be inappropriate at a Jewish memorial service.
That’s why this post is all about the kind of gifts that you should and should not send to a Jewish family in mourning.
Yes, that’s correct. Since we take the presence of flowers for granted at wakes and funerals, few (if any) of us question if we should send them to Jewish families. Usually, flowers have no place at Jewish funerals, burials, Unveiling Ceremony or grieving process (Stages of Mourning). They won’t place them on or near a grave, and many view flowers arriving at their home almost as an insult to their loved one. In fact, many Jews consider them to be disruptive to the mourning process and therefore: counterproductive. Jewish funeral etiquette condemns them, so it’s best not to send them.
Since flowers are usually bright, colorful and appear celebratory, they come across as inappropriately festive. Also, since flowers are such temporary elements, they’re considered in poor taste. Jews place stones on graves for a reason – their resolve and permanent strength reminds mourners of their loved one’s life.
Send a Care Package Instead
For Jewish families, care packages make a fantastic alternative to flowers. Usually, the best time to send them is when the family sits Shiva.
Of course, Shiva baskets may contain just about any food item. However, most of them contain some variation of pastries, fruit, nuts, coffee/tea, candies, fine chocolates and more.
In addition, Shiva platters will be welcome, as well. Arrangements of meat, fish, condiments, cheese, salads and sides will give the family something to help make the mourning process a little easier.
If you want to be extra generous, some arrange complete catering services for families sitting Shiva. However, this will likely require some extensive arrangements in advance.
The term “Tzedakah” means “righteous giving” in Hebrew. Kindness, compassion and generosity are integral to Judaism and define its core values beautifully. At Fox Monuments, we’re proud to serve as an institution that gives grieving Jewish families monuments befitting their loved ones and faith. For decades, our service to Long Island’s Jewish community provides them with the high-quality monuments they love and the gorgeous artistry that celebrates faith and legacy together.