A Closer Look at the Jewish Tradition of Shiva

Funeral Home San Mateo

Jewish funerals often involve the tradition of shiva. After funeral services and burial services at a cemetery, individuals of the Jewish faith take part in a mourning process known as shiva. Shiva is a weeklong period during which mourners both remember the deceased and focus on their own spirituality. Keep reading to learn more about shiva, including the ritual washing, sitting period, and prayer services.

Ritual Washing
After burial services for the deceased have culminated, Jewish mourners perform a ritual act of washing. This act is done after leaving the cemetery and before entering the shiva house. Jewish funerals mandate that mourners pour water three times over each hand, alternating hands each time. This careful washing is a spiritual performance that recognizes the sanctity of life. The Jewish faith places great significance on water as the source of all life.

Sitting Period
The seven-day sitting period begins immediately after burial services. If a funeral ceremony is on a Tuesday, the last day of shiva will be the following Monday. Mourners do not leave the shiva house at any time and generally take off work during this week. Shiva usually takes place in the home of the deceased. Mourners believe that the deceased individual’s presence is strongest in his or her own home. Individuals who sit shiva are spouses, siblings, parents, or children of the deceased.

Prayer Services
Prayers services take place where shiva is sat and not in a temple. This tradition enables mourners to remain in the home of the deceased and to truly become absorbed in the mourning process. Services are generally held in the morning, late afternoon, and evening. In between more formal services, mourners may share their memories of the deceased and passages from the Torah.

To learn more about Jewish funerals near San Mateo, contact Skylawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park by calling (650) 349-4411. In addition to traditional burial services, we also offer green burials. Visit our cemetery and memorial park today to view the grounds and speak directly to an attentive, compassionate member of our staff.

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