Preparing Your Home for Sitting Shiva

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Shiva is observed by Jewish mourners for seven days after the burial of an immediate family member- a father, mother, brother, sister, spouse or child. Some families decide to “sit shiva” for a shorter period of time.  Shiva takes place in the home of the deceased or in the home of a principal mourner.

This list can be used as a guide to prepare a home for “sitting shiva.”

Begin by estimating the number of people you expect to have visit.  You may want to “overestimate” when figuring how much of each item will be needed as not to get caught short, and unused items can be returned.

You will probably have left over food that needs refrigeration, so try to have a nearly empty refrigerator, anticipate the need for additional storage and identify a local food pantry near the shiva house that accepts donations.

On the first day only, after returning from the cemetery, have these items outside the front door.

*A Plastic Water Pitcher
*Paper towels
*Trash Basket

Memorial Candle - usually supplied by the funeral home
Benches- cardboard benches may be supplied by your funeral home
Mirror Covers- sheet, pillowcase, towel or shiva shade

Serving tables with table cloths- 6 ft. folding or large round for food,
3 ft. or Card table for drinks
Folding chairs
Snack Tables
Coat Rack

Plastic Silverware- (estimate 2 forks, 1 spoon, 1 knife per person)
Dinner Napkins-(estimate 1 per person)
Cocktail Napkins- (estimate 2 per person)
Plastic Dinner Plates- (estimate 1 per person)
Plastic Dessert Plates- (estimate 2 per person)
Plastic 9 0z Cups - (estimate 2 per person)
Hot Cups- (estimate 1 per person)

Ice Bucket
Cooler Chest- filled with ice for bottled water
30 cup Electric Coffee Pot for Decaf
30 cup Electric Coffee Pot for Regular (optional)
12 cup Electric Coffee Pot for hot water, Tea

Grocery Items:
Decaf Coffee, Regular Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Sweetener, Milk,
Non-dairy Creamer,  Bottled Water (estimate 1 per 2 people)
Large Plastic Trash Bags,  Large Plastic Food  Storage Bags
Soda Assortment (estimate 10oz. per person)
Ice (estimate 1 bag for the cooler and 1 bag per 15  people)

More information about sitting shiva can be found at - a free service to help Jewish mourners and those wishing to express their condolences. Visitors can create a “Shiva Registry” to email funeral &shiva details to friends and family, request a Yahrzeit Reminder, send food, gifts & donations, and find helpful resources.

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Posted by on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011. Filed under Mourning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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