Sending a sympathy or shiva gift is certainly one of life’s most difficult tasks. What makes it difficult is our own unease with death combined with a feeling of helplessness—“how can I truly help?” This is particularly so when the death is a tragedy. But as we all know death and even tragedy is part of life.
Here at Challah Connection, we have been helping gift givers send shiva and sympathy gifts for over 10 years. This experience combined with our own mourning for loved ones we have personally lost makes us particularly well versed in this sorrowful area.
Following are some of the most commonly asked questions by both Jews and non Jews alike, who are attempting to console those in mourning with a special gift.
What Is Shiva?
Shiva is the 7 day Jewish mourning period. During shiva, friends and family visit those who are mourning as an act of support and friendship. Visitors, along with the mourners sit, nosh (eat) and through conversation, celebrate the life that has ended.
When Is Shiva?
A shiva schedule is typically announced at the funeral or obituary. Although shiva is 7 days, many mourners shorten the period. Shiva is never on Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. The first Shiva typically begins after the funeral, which is often followed by the burial. Funerals often start between 11am – 2pm and are around an hour. The burial is on average, another 2-3 hours depending on the distance of the cemetery from the funeral (often in Synagogue or Funeral Home). First shiva can begin anywhere from 4:30pm to 7pm and doesn’t usually last past 9 or so.
I am going to the shiva, to make a shiva call, what should I expect?
Shiva is a sad occasion but you should not feel nervous or uncomfortable. Just being there is enough; you need not worry about saying the “right” thing. If not sure what to say or how to act, it’s best to say little. However, you can never go wrong by being supportive and helpful: “Anyone need a drink?” “Can I help clean up?” “How are you feeling?”
What should I bring to shiva?
Bring food that can easily be served and shared. Avoid food that requires work on the part of the mourners. Kosher cookies, cakes, candies, nuts are all welcome at shiva as long as they are crowd pleasers and easy to serve.
I am far away and can’t go to shiva, what should I do?
Send a card or food-a shiva gift basket. Never send flowers! Shiva gifts should be foods that are well liked by many (don’t forget young kids, if they are part of the mourning family) and easy to serve. Our 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket.
When should the gift arrive?
Ideally, the earliest your gift should arrive is the first day of shiva, which is usually the day of the funeral and burial. Shiva gifts are welcome anytime during the shiva period and even beyond (see next question).
What if I have missed the official shiva period, should I still send a gift?
Although the official shiva period is over, the family will still be receiving visitors and food will be needed to feed them. Sending a gift at this time is completely acceptable and shows your care.
What is your best selling shiva gift basket?
In order of popularity, our top 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket. Also very popular is our Sympathy Dried Fruit and Nut Tray, Thoughtful Condolence Basket, Baklava Assortment and more which you can see here.
How Do I Choose A Gift?
All of our shiva gifts are time tested and we know that shiva families truly appreciate them. Your choice should be based on your allowable budget (don’t forget shipping), any personal preferences you may have and/or any dietary restrictions of the shiva family that you are aware of. We are always happy to help you make your selection.
Does My Shiva Gift Need to be Kosher?
Sending a kosher gift is a recommended. Even if the mourners are not kosher observant, it is quite possible that some of the attendees are. Shiva is not a time for inconvenience or difficult moments. At Challah Connection, all of our shiva gifts are certified kosher. Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K.
Do You Carry Glatt Kosher Shiva Gifts?
Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K, which are suitable for those who require the highest level (Glatt) kashrut. If you require such a basket, please let us know and we will be sure that only foods of the highest certification are included.
What Should the Gift Message Say?
For most of us, this is perhaps the hardest part of sending a sympathy or shiva gift. Often, we try to convey too much into the message. Keeping your message simple is key. Following are some of our most frequently used gift messages. Feel free to use as is or with your own personal touch. Don’t forget to sign your name!-With heartfelt sympathy-Our thoughts are prayers are with you during this difficult time-We are so sorry for your loss and send our warmest condolences to you and your family-May [name of deceased] be a blessing to all who knew him/her-May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem
Where should the shiva gift be sent?
Shiva very rarely takes place at a funeral home (actually we have never heard of this happening). Shiva usually takes place at the home of a family member. This is where the shiva gift should be sent.
How should I address the gift—to my friend? To the entire family?
While you may have a specific friend or colleague in mourning, it is a nice gesture to address the gift to the entire family. For example, instead of Ms. Suzie Miller, The Miller Family. If you are sending a gift to someone who is staying with friends or family, you can address it as follows: The Miller Family, c/o The XYZ Family.Any questions? Need help placing your order? Please call us at 866-242-5524 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.