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Who Mourns

The laws of mourning are incumbent upon seven first-degree relatives of the deceased: son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, and spouse. Other relatives and friends form the outer circle and offer support and comfort to the primary mourners.


The first, most intense period of mourning is the period between the death and the burial. This period, is called aninut. It is during this period that the rending of the garments as a sign of grief, is performed. The common custom is that the first degree mourners tear their clothes during the funeral ceremony, before the burial.

The Shivah

The Shivah begins after the burial and extends to the morning of the 7th day. The distinguishing feature of the Shivah is that the mourners take a complete break from the routine of everyday life.

Condolence Meal

When the mourners arrive home following the burial, they are given a special meal of condolence --traditionally, bagels and hard-boiled eggs, the round shape being symbolic of the cycle of life.The House of Mourning: For the entire week of the Shivah, the mourners remain in the house of mourning and their relatives and friends come to console and participate in prayers. During the prayer services the mourners recite the Kaddish.

Daily Minyan

A minyan should gather for the 3 daily prayers in the house of mourning, so that the mourners can recite the Kaddish or mourners may attend services with the congregation.

Memorial Candles

Candles should be kindled in the house of mourning in memory of the deceased upon returning from the cemetery and kept burning for the entire 7 day period.

Covering the Mirrors

It is a tradition to cover the mirrors and pictures in the house of mourning.

"Sitting" Shivah

It is an ancient Jewish tradition that mourners do not sit upon chairs of normal height, but rather on low stools.

Leather Shoes

The mourner forgoes the comfort of leather shoes.


The mourner does not shave or cut his hair or does he bathe for pleasure.


During Shabbat, all displays of mourning are suspended and they may leave the house of mourning to attend services and recite the Kaddish in the synagogue.

End of Shivah

Shivah ends on the morning of the 7th day after burial (the day of the burial counts as the 1st day).

The Sheloshim and the First Year

As the mourner resumes their everyday routine, certain mourning practices are continued for a period of thirty days. In the case of a person mourning the passing of a parent, these mourning practices extend for a full year.

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