by Leslie LaskinReese (San Rafael, CA)

Lori asked if we would sit shiva and  I said no, who would come that knows Mom?  That was my knee jerk reaction.  Raised a Jew but not trained a Jew.  We never sat shiva growing up. I didn’t even know what it looked like when I was young.  But the day after Mom died I realized I needed to sit shiva.  When I told Dad he sounded almost relieved.  Or maybe I was imagining things.

We are Reform Jews.  Orthodox Jews sit shiva for seven days.  That’s what shiva means: seven.  Reform Jews sit shiva for three days.  I don’t know who picked three.  Officially shiva begins as soon as the funeral finishes.  I checked in with my friend who is studying to be a rabbi and she said shiva can begin when I need it to begin.  So my shiva began on Sunday.  My dear dear friends brought lunch and dinner and spent time with me.  They let me talk and they listened.  They made me sit down and they fed me.  They gave me room to breathe.

Last night and tonight we had a service at home.  Our wonderful cantor and my friend who is almost a rabbi officially, and is clearly a rabbi in every other way, led beautiful services and gave me room to pray and remember and cry surrounded by friends who will wrap themselves around me and my family.  It gave me a place to begin.  I stopped holding my breath.  And I told them about Mom.

So yes, I did sit shiva Lori, and it was amazing.  Thanks for asking.

Leslie LaskinReese is a writer and restaurant designer living in Northern California.  Leslie’s writing can be found at something’s burning ( where this piece first appeared.  When she is not writing, Leslie is either designing restaurants  or tending her family.  Someday, Leslie will have the courage to seek print publication for one of her many writing projects.

1 Comment

Filed under American Jewry, Family history

One response to “Shiva

  1. Sandra Yoffee

    I enjoyed reading this piece on “Shiva”. It is amazing how your faith can help you through the difficult times in life.

    I am a member of a writing group in Sarasota, FL called the Six Pearls. We write and read our memoirs.

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