Thursday, April 19, 2007


Thank you so much for all your posts, emails and phone calls. It means so much to have so many people care and share their feelings at a time like this.

My husband's mother, Savta Simcha AH passed away a week ago today at around 8 in the morning. By around noon the funeral arrangements had all been made and at three in the afternoon we all gathered at the cemetery to pay our last respects.

For those of you who aren't familiar with our customs, I'll give you the 'while standing on one foot' rendition. We bury our dead immediately and then the family goes into deep mourning, shiva, for a week. During that time they do nothing but mourn. They do not shave, shower, change their clothes, prepare any food or drink or leave the house. Anyone who sleeps over the first night must stay the entire time. The only break comes if the shiva falls on a shabbat and then the mourners have 24 hours where no one comes to pay their respect and they are free to serve themselves.

Savta Simcha had eight children...five boys and three girls. One daughter died very young after they moved to Israel. My sister-in-law Rachel, AH, passed away tragically twelve years ago. That left six remaining siblings all in mourning.

Shortly after we came to terms with the shock of her passing the family began making phone calls to relatives and close friends. Then, like smoke signals, the word got out and by the time we got to the cemetery the place was filled.

One of the brothers oldest son neice spoke.

For the past week the house of shiva was filled morning till night with visitors. Twice a day prayers were held. Stories were told. Pictures were passed around.

Shiva is a marvellous thing. When my own Dad AH passed away my brother and I were so numb that we couldn't have functioned if we had to. By the end of that week of shiva we were able to think clearly enough to handle what had to be done for my mom. Besides, it was so important having loved ones around to cry with and laugh with and tell stories to.

After a week, you are all talked out. And somehow are better prepared to go back into the world where your loved one will no longer walk.

I couldn't sit shiva, she wasn't my mother. Only spouses, parents, G-d forbid, and siblings sit shiva.

Every morning before seven, I arrived and waited while they prayed. Then I ran across the street to the shuk and bought fresh rolls, some yellow and some salty cheese, salad stuff and began preparing breakfast.

Then all day long people showed up. Each had to be offered a hot or cold drink. Each had to be offered something to nosh on...peanuts, raisins, crackers, cookies. We did it simply...disposable everything and a thirty cup urn was constantly being filled with water. The boys decided not to have us cook but to have food brought in. That was lunch. Supper was a combination of leftovers from breakfast and lunch. One day a cousin sent in three pizzas. Another day a different relative sent in boxes of borekkahs...puff pastery filled with different cheeses or pizza flavours, or spinach. And one day a cousin sent in two huge pots of kubbeh. I'll tell you about kubbeh in another post. One pot of kubbeh hamustah...lemony flavoured, and one kubbeh adom...tomoato flavoured.

Each day started at seven and ended fifteen hours later. Whoever could, pitched in.

We did what we had to do. And now it's over. My husband came home yesterday. Tomorrow we are back at the cemetery and the boys will not shave for thirty days until the headstone is put up.

Yesterday I fell into bed at five in the afternoon and got up at seven thirty this morning. Standing on my feet all those hours serving people had taken a toll on my old bones. But we do what we have to do.

Sleep well Savta. We miss you already.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.


At 2:45 PM, Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

SOOOO glad your back! Thanks for all the information. You know how much I appreciate learning more about your customs. Be sure, when you get rested up and have time, to read my post on A Night To Honor ISRAEL. Blessings to you, Marallyn!

At 6:46 PM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Your mother-in-law, a"h, certainly left an impression on her family and friends.

And you, Marallyn, have certainly left an impression on us with your tribute to her in the last post and by the fact that you've come back to the blog/to your blog friends so soon after this trying time in your family's life.

Your mother-in-law's neshama should have an aliya.

And may your family all be well "ad meah v'esrim" and continue to enjoy each other and legacy that your mother-in-law left behind.

At 2:02 AM, Blogger jennifer said...

I have been praying for you and yours.
I think spending the week in mourning is good. Sometimes we move so fast we don't allow the normal grief to sit in.
May you remember that the world now is praying for you and cares for you.
Take care,

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Val said...

Sorry to hear your loss, but it sounds like she had a wonderful family and you all pulled together as it should be.
Now it's time to get back to taking care of you. Rest up and get back into your own groove!

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Perez said...

I'm sorry. I hope you and your family is doing okay.

Take it easy-perez

At 5:15 PM, Blogger cheated are the clouds said...

My sorrow reaches out to you and your family in this time of need, My prayers are with you my friend

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your family, no matter how old someone is when they pass, huge losses are felt by the living. I know you were a wonderful D.I.L. So be at peace with this!!!
I have been very involved with many shivas and the stamina needed is sometimes kudos to you!!! I haven't written for a long time as my computer has not been co-operative...but I am back to being a devotee and hope to write soon. Again, condolences to you and yours...hugs Shelley

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Morgan said...

I am sorry for your family. That has got to be hard doing that every day for a whole week.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger muse said...

I'm so sorry. I had a feeling that's what happened when you became incomunicado.
My husband and his sister sat here for their parents, and their father was here the first tme when my mother-in-law passed away.
I think the Jewish laws of mourning are the best and most suited for the needs of the mourners. That has also been what converts to Judaism have told me.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger ukok said...

Thanks for the insights into your customs and practices. I am catholic and it's the custom of catholics to pray for the souls of the deceased, which I now do for your mother.

God Bless

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Sorry to hear about this. Baruch Dayan Emet.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks jack...means a lot

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

Think I'd like shiva.
Isn't there a candle involved somewhere?


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