Left Menu
Development News Edition

Pittsburgh Shooting: Jews begin ancient 'shiva' custom of sending items to mourners

Jewish tradition requires that bodies be buried as quickly as possible, followed by shiva, the Hebrew word for seven, the week-long period when mourners remember the dead, discuss their loss, pray and comfort one another.


Pittsburgh Shooting: Jews begin ancient 'shiva' custom of sending items to mourners
Ancient Jewish custom of shiva, paying their respects by visiting the mourning families, and by sending food baskets to mourners. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Behind the deli counter at a Jewish market in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, AJay Herskowitz provides brisket and comfort to a community shaken by tragedy.

From London to New York to Los Angeles, people sought to offer consolation to Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood following a deadly shooting in a synagogue here. They turned to the ancient Jewish custom of shiva, paying their respects by visiting the mourning families, and by sending food baskets to mourners.

At the Murray Avenue Kosher market, which often provides food for shiva visits, manager Herskowitz, who knew most of the victims personally, said he is "100-fold" busier than usual.

Employees worked on their days off to prepare food platters, including brisket and apricot chicken dinners and lox platters. Herskowitz directed a delivery man bringing food to synagogues, homes of the shooting victims' families, and local Jewish schools.

"Several strangers just want to make blanket donations to help anybody out," said Herskowitz, who added that he had received an order from as far away as London.

Jewish tradition requires that bodies be buried as quickly as possible, followed by shiva, the Hebrew word for seven, the week-long period when mourners remember the dead, discuss their loss, pray and comfort one another. Also, mirrors are covered so as not to be a cause of joy or not to become preoccupied with external appearance - inappropriate in mourning or in the presence of mourners.

Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, David Mitzner Dean at the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University in New York, said the importance of sitting shiva is heightened in such a tragedy.

"In a tragedy, shiva is particularly poignant in that it allows for a cathartic experience of reflecting on the lives led and not just on the way they passed. It allows us to ensure that the legacy revolves around their accomplishments and impact on the world, not overly on the tragic way in which they were taken from us," Glasser said.

CROWDED FUNERALS

On Tuesday, mourners crowded the first three of nine funerals for the victims of Saturday's attack by a gunman who shouted, "All Jews must die," believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Avowed anti-Semite Robert Bowers, 46, was charged with 29 federal felony counts and was ordered held without bail on Monday. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Three more funerals were to be held on Wednesday.

"With shiva, you're making grieving highly individual," said Rabbi Walter Jacob of Rodef Shalom, the site of funerals for two victims. "It's a little group who help each other," he said.

Deli manager Herskowitz first heard about the shootings on his police radio at home - he has rabbinical permission to operate one on the Jewish Sabbath, when it is otherwise not permitted - and then alerted three other congregations in the neighbourhood.

Herskowitz said he was staying busy to avoid thinking about the calamity. He did not know if he would pay shiva visits himself, but the victim he knew best, Dan Stein, was always on his mind as he prepared meals for Stein's family and the other victims.

"I think about Dan and his wife Sharon all the time. I've never seen a couple melded together like they were," he said.

(With inputs from agencies.)


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

JNU Administration's 100-meter challenge before JNUSU

For the first time in its history, Jawaharlal Nehru University JNU Administration is seeking permanent deployment of local police to keep protesting students at 100 meters away from the Administrative Block. It would be interesting to see h...

Sentiment Analysis of Twitter users during COP25: Governments losing trust on Climate Action

Sentiment analysis of Twitter users during COP25 in Madrid, being held from December 2-13, shows widespread fear on climate change due to global warming but almost no trust on governments in meeting the emission targets. In the analysis the...

These innovators are making humanitarian response more efficient

These alarming trends prompt a call for the world to not only address the ongoing crisis but also to adopt innovative approaches to fulfill the growing humanitarian needs in such emergencies. ...

Hyderabad Encounter: A sentiment analysis of public mood on day of encounter

Sentiment analysis of twitter users revealed that they showered salutes on Hyderabad police for eliminating alleged gang rapists of the veterinary doctor but only a few believe in cops version of successive events leading to encounter....

Videos

Latest News

Maldives' FM meets PM Modi, conveys Male's commitment to further strengthen ties with India

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Friday and conveyed the commitment of the leadership of the Maldives to its India First policy and to further strengthening the bilateral relations. For...

State RTC asked to drop move to induct eco friendly buses

State RTC asked to drop move to induct eco friendly buses Amaravati, Dec 13 PTI The Judicial Preview Commission of the Andhra Pradesh government has asked the State Road Transport Corporation to drop the move to induct eco-friendly ele...

SC awards 30 grace marks to all candidates in Haryana Judicial Service exam-2017

Coming to the rescue of the candidates who appeared for 107 posts of civil judge junior division in Haryana, the Supreme Court Friday directed awarding 30 grace marks in two papers to them, saying that the marking in mains examination-2017 ...

Muslims stage silent protest against amended Citizenship Act

Muslims in Lohardaga inJharkhand wore black badges and staged a silent protestagainst the amended Citizenship Act on FridayThe demonstrators staged protests near mosques acrossthe district after Friday prayers, sources in Anjuman Islamia,wh...

Give Feedback