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A LODZ CEMETERY VISIT

Chaia Ruchla (Silberstein) Cosniac, eldest of the children of the deceased; Sarah (Migdal) Green (visiting from the United States), sister Hendel Migdal, at the grave of sister Rivka Gitel (Migdal) Silberstein.
 

Death and Remembrance

Mourning

Keriah and shiva

The mourners traditionally make a tear (keriah קריעה) in an outer garment either before the funeral or immediately after it. The tear should be on the left side for a parent (over the heart and clearly visible) and on the right side for brothers, sisters, children and spouses (and does not need to be visible).

If a son or daughter of the deceased needs to change clothes during the shiva, he or she must tear the changed clothes. No other family member is required to rend changed clothes during shiva. Neither son nor daughter may ever sew the rent clothes, but any other mourner may mend the clothing thirty days after the burial.

When they get home, the mourners do not shower or bathe for a week, do not wear leather shoes and/or jewelry, men do not shave, and in many communities large wall mirrors in the mourners' home are covered. It is customary for the mourners to sit on low stools or even the floor, symbolic of the emotional reality of being "brought low" by the grief. The meal of consolation (seudat havra'ah), the first meal eaten on returning from the funeral, traditionally consists of hard boiled eggs and other round or oblong foods. This is often credited to the Biblical story of Jacob purchasing the birthright from Esau with stewed lentils; (Genesis 25:34). It is traditionally stated that Jacob was cooking the lentils soon after the death of his grandfather, Abraham.

During this time distant family and friends come to visit or call the mourners to comfort them via "shiva calls".

more cemetery visits

Commencing and calculating the seven days of mourning

If the mourner returns from the cemetery after the burial before sundown then the day of the funeral is counted as the first of the seven days of mourning. Mourning generally concludes in the morning of the seventh day. No mourning may occur on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), nor may the burial take place on Shabbat, but the day of Shabbat does count as one of the seven days. If a Jewish holiday occurs after the first day, that curtails the mourning period. If the funeral occurs during a festival, the start of the mourning period awaits the end of the festival. Some holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah, cancel the mourning period completely.

Stages of Mourning

Aninut

The first stage of mourning is aninut, or "[intense] mourning." An onen (a person in aninut) is considered to be in a state of total shock and disorientation. Thus the onen is exempt from performing mitzvot that require action (and attention), such as praying and reciting blessings, wearing tefillin (phylacteries), in order to be able to tend unhindered to the funeral arrangements.

Aninut lasts until the burial is over, or, if a mourner is unable to attend the funeral, from the moment he is no longer involved with the funeral itself.

Avelut

Aninut is immediately followed by avelut ("mourning"). An avel ("mourner") does not listen to music or go to concerts, and does not attend any joyous events or parties such as marriages or Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, unless absolutely necessary. (If the date for such an event has already been set prior to the death, it is strictly forbidden for it to be postponed or canceled.)

Avelut consists of three distinct periods.

Shiva Seven days

The first stage of avelut is shiva (Hebrew: שבעה ; "seven"), a week-long period of grief and mourning. Observance of shiva is referred to by English-speaking Jews as "sitting shiva". During this period, mourners traditionally gather in one home and receive visitors.

It is considered a great mitzvah (commandment) of kindness and compassion to pay a home visit to the mourners. Traditionally, no greetings are exchanged and visitors wait for the mourners to initiate conversation. The mourner is under no obligation to engage in conversation and may, in fact, completely ignore his visitors.

There are various customs as to what to say when taking leave of the mourner(s). One of the most common is to say to them:

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Hamakom y'nachem etkhem b'tokh sha'ar avelei tziyon viyrushalayim:

"The Omnipresent will comfort you (pl.) among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

Depending on their community's customs, others may also add such wishes as: "You should have no more tza'ar ('pain')" or "You should have only simchas ('celebrations')" or "we should hear only good news (besorot tovot) from each other" or "I wish you long life".

Traditionally, prayer services are organized in the house of mourning. It is customary for the family to lead the services themselves.

Shloshim Thirty days

The thirty-day period following the death (including shiva) is known as shloshim (Hebrew: שלושים ; "thirty"). During shloshim, a mourner is forbidden to marry or to attend a seudat mitzvah ("religious festive meal"). Men do not shave or get haircuts during this time.

Since Judaism teaches that a deceased person can still benefit from the merit of mitzvot (deeds commanded by God) done in their memory, it is considered a special privilege to bring merit to the departed by learning Torah in their name. A popular custom is to coordinate a group of people who will jointly study the complete Mishnah during the shloshim period.

Shneim asar chodesh Twelve months

Those mourning a parent additionally observe a twelve-month period (Hebrew: שנים עשר חודש, shneim asar chodesh; "twelve months"), counted from the day of death. During this period, most activity returns to normal, although the mourners continue to recite the mourner's kaddish as part of synagogue services for eleven months, and there remain restrictions on attending festive occasions and large gatherings, especially where live music is played.



Text from Wikipedia.

 


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