Food for Shiva

MARCH 2, 2021  /  AMANDA FRISS  / 

Food for Shiva
Writer Haruki Murikami says that "death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it." We have all experienced loss in one way or another, but those who have been lucky enough never to have mourned the death of a family member might not know the best way to support a friend who is going through this difficult time.
Like many religions, Judaism has a formalized system for families dealing with loss. It's called "shiva," which means "seven" in Hebrew, referring to the traditional period of mourning that begins just after the burial. Often during this time mourners cover mirrors and don't wear makeup, both of which serve as reminders to focus attention on the memory of the deceased.
Commonly referred to as "sitting" shiva, it is also customary for those who are mourning to open their house to guests offering condolences. Bringing a meal to the home is a wonderful way to show you care and lend support to those who are grieving. Needless to say, not all Jews observe the shiva period in the same way. Many reform Jews may only sit shiva for a day or two. Here are some things to keep in mind when bringing a meal to a family sitting shiva.
1. It's really best to bring food and no other gifts or flowers. Flowers are customarily taboo because they die.
2. Some Jews keep kosher and some don't, so unless you know the particular practices of the mourning family, I would keep everything kosher just in case. An easy way to do this is to stick with a vegetarian menu.
3. Since the family tends to have many people over at their house during this time, it would be best to bring something they could easily set out for visitors to share. That way they don't have to worry about feeding their guests else as well as themselves.
4. Many people tend to bring treats and baked goods, so some fresh, healthy food might be especially appreciated. Of course, a few extra cookies or brownies along with the healthy stuff couldn't hurt!
5. It's probably best to put everything in disposable containers, so no one has to return anything to you. And if it's meant for sharing, it would be nice to bring food already arranged on a platter or in a serving bowl, along with plastic serving utensils, eating utensils, paper plates and napkins. Anything to make it easier on your friends.
6. Lastly, think about giving your friend a meal for the freezer to eat after the shiva period is over. Or plan to bring another meal the following week.
Here are some meal ideas to take during shiva or in the following weeks:
A kugel (classic Jewish comfort food!) and a big bowl of salad
A platter of bagels along with some different flavors of cream cheese and a large fruit salad (and maybe some brownies?)
Vegetarian breakfast burritos and muffins to put in the freezer for an easy reheated breakfast
A ravioli lasagna for the freezer and a snack platter with cheeses, crackers, nuts and fruit
Whatever you decide, supporting someone who is grieving is such a nice way to show that you care about them and are there for them, even in the saddest of times.
Interested in learning more about shiva? Start here and here.
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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.

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