Miami Jewish Funerals, in partnership with, provides comprehensive support and guidance on the traditions of Jewish mourning. Through our partner, Miami Jewish Funerals helps family members, friends, and the community honor and commemorate the passing of loved ones.

How to Plan a Shiva

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Why Families Sit Shiva

Shiva, meaning seven in Hebrew, is the first period of Jewish mourning. It is a time dedicated to surrounding mourners with love, creating an environment of comfort and community. Family and friends gather to help support mourners during this difficult time as they “sit shiva” by providing meals, speaking with mourners, and sharing stories and memories. This practice is generally meaningful to mourners as it surrounds them with support.

There are a few customs you may encounter when visiting a home to pay a shiva call:

  • When you arrive at the shiva home, it is common to be greeted by an opened or unlocked door, welcoming you in to offer support to mourners. If there is security such as a gate or at a high-rise, tell the guard why you are there. If the door is locked, it is acceptable to knock discreetly prior to ringing the doorbell.
  • It is not necessary to have a long conversation with the mourner. You may offer condolences and share memories of the deceased.
  • Those attending shiva may choose to bring food, plant a tree in Israel, or make a charitable contribution to honor the deceased.


Offering Condolences

There are many ways to extend condolences and support Jewish family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one. Traditional customs include:

  • Attending a shiva
  • Sending a shiva platter
  • Planting a tree in honor of the deceased
  • Sending messages of sympathy
  • Contributing to a charitable organization


Planning a Shiva

Shiva is commonly coordinated by the immediate mourners’ family and friends. Although there are many details to consider, a primary focus is respecting the mourners’ preferences and wishes.

In partnership with, Miami Jewish Funerals has curated resources dedicated to planning a shiva.

Plan a Shiva



Shiva Customs

Although shiva traditionally takes place at an immediate mourner’s home, a family member or friend may host. There are many customs associated with Jewish mourning, but the most important act is important to ensure you observe the rituals requested by the mourners.

Some traditional customs include:

  • Leaving the front door unlocked: Allows visitors to enter peacefully so as not to distract the mourners
  • Lighting the shiva candle: In honor of the deceased, the shiva candle is lit directly following the burial and burns for 7 days
  • Seudat Havra’ah: The first meal of consolation traditionally includes round foods representing the cycle of life
  • Washing the hands: Customarily, one washes their hands before entering their home, signifying a separation life from death
  • Removing shoes: The mourner removes his shoes prior to entering the home, separating life from death
  • Sitting low to the ground: A symbolic gesture of a mourner’s physical being aligning with his emotional state
  • Covering mirrors: Oftentimes, mirrors are covered as a reminder that mourning provides an opportunity to turn inward

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