I participated tonight in a tradition I had never heard of, and it was very special.
A few months ago we became friends with neighbors of ours who have a son a bit older than Garrett. I’ll just use their initials, “J” (the mom) and “B” (the dad). They’re lovely and we enjoy spending time with them. G-Man digs playing with their kids.
Last week, B’s dad passed away. If you’ve read my blog, you know that my father died in July and that it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. When that happened to me, my friends stepped up in a way I never even knew was possible. I felt love and support from everyone in my life. I felt so blessed during such a dark time.
Well, as soon as I heard about B’s dad I wanted him and his family to know we were thinking of them. I know they knew. They asked several of their friends to be a part of a Jewish tradition tonight that I never knew about. You walk around the block, surrounded by friends and family, to signify the end of Shiva (the traditional seven days you spend mourning your loss). Here’s an explanation of “getting up from Shiva” from aish.com:
“The house that the mourners live in for the week of shiva becomes a house of mourning. It takes on an ambience of solemnity, filled with memory, contemplation, and meditation. But it is a house where people will continue to dwell. The concrete act of physically stepping outside, walking around the block, and coming back in, says that this house and our relationship with this house will now be renewed.”
In all the years I’ve been to funerals and shivas, I’ve never experienced this tradition. I just called my mom to ask if she had, and the answer was, “No”.
I will always remember this night, even though it was completely casual and the people walking were having their own conversations and thoughts, even laughing and being silly. But that’s the point of it, isn’t it? Starting life again. It’s a tradition I will bring to future shivas (of which there will be few, I hope.) It was wonderful. And I feel lucky that I was asked to be a part of it.
It also reminded me why traditions are so important. They tie us to who we are, who our ancestors were, to our friends and our families. Even though I’m not big on organized religion, I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and the traditions that come from it. So many of them are a big part of who I am. I was pleased to learn a new one tonight.