Sitting shiva is a consummate Jewish tradition. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most monumental customs within the Jewish faith. Additionally, many consider it to be the most important step in the mourning process. However, how do we sit shiva during this period of social distancing?
At this time, we’re all doing our best to acclimate to unique circumstances. As COVID-19 continues to impact our ability to gather, most of us are still wondering how to proceed in many areas.
At Fox Monuments, we’ve served Long Island’s Jewish community for several decades. Our primary goal is to guide and support families throughout some of the most painful and difficult phases. In this post, we’ll explore shiva and funeral safety in the time of COVID-19.
What is Shiva?
As most of us know, within the Jewish faith, the body of the deceased is buried immediately. Then, for up to seven days after, the bereaved family receives visitors and mourners in their home. Extended family, friends and neighbors visit the home to gather and pay their respects throughout the shiva period.
Usually, the shiva is in the home of the deceased, or one of their family members. Very often, those attending wear torn garments or black ribbon to reflect their state of mourning. Many bring food in order to console the grieving family.
Traditionally, the shiva lasts seven days. In fact, in Hebrew, “shiva” means seven. However, most contemporary families condense shiva into a period of one to four days.
Shiva & Funerals Now
The recent spread of coronavirus makes planning gatherings particularly difficult nowadays. We’re all being encouraged to maintain social distancing and limit gatherings to fewer than ten people. In addition, it seems as if there are new official guidelines and policies on a daily basis. It’s hard to avoid total confusion in the midst of so much uncertainty.
For grieving families, the inability to gather with other mourners can be doubly difficult. Obviously, our natural inclination is to provide support to those who have lost loved ones. Having to compromise on funerals after losing a loved one can be very painful and disorienting.
Unfortunately, right now we have no official policy in place when it comes to shiva and funerals. However, in New York we’re currently limited to gatherings of ten people or less. While this can be frustrating, the safety of our community is paramount.
Keeping Shiva Safe
There are ways to host shiva safely. First, you can regulate the flow of guests by allocating specific times for certain visitors. This way, you’ll be able to limit the amount of people in your home and keep it below ten. Stay in touch with friends and family and decide on a schedule.
In addition, encourage everyone to wear face coverings. Admittedly, this may seem very counterintuitive, especially for mourning attire. However, it’s very necessary at the moment to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Also, be sure to have everyone wash their hands and maintain distances of six feet or more. Implementing these practices might seem like an additional burden. But, they’re a way to ensure you can both honor your faith and keep your community safe.
Fox Monuments has always strived to honor the Jewish tradition with gorgeous, custom monuments. Our work is about paying tribute to the Jewish faith and honoring the lives of your loved ones with enduring memorials. No matter what kind of hardships we may collectively face, we’ll maintain our commitment to serving our community.