I just read your July 15 column, “As our world changes, so does shiva.”
I’m not arguing with what you said and your opinions about shiva and whether or not it is changing. I just wanted to mention my experience lately.
I guess I’m at the age where so many of my friends’ parents have died lately. On top of that, siblings of my friends and spouses have died “prematurely” (whatever that means).
Three years ago my father passed away and 11 months ago my husband died, unexpectedly and suddenly, leaving three sons in college. My Jewish friends and I have found the shiva experience incredibly intense, exhausting and overwhelming. However, that’s actually a good thing. The constant onslaught of visitors, calls, food and care from the community is what has gotten us through this and continues even now, almost a year later. People came out of the woodwork to help us through a confusing and difficult time.
Yes, there are so many logistical things that need to be taken care of — I’m someone who was left such a mess, that it will take years to straighten out. However, with the help of others, and a clearer mind, a week later doesn’t make much difference.
Actually, what I really wanted to say was that I have some Christian friends who lost close family members recently, too. They were around when we sat shiva. They told me they wish that they had something like that. After the funeral, they came home, and were so sad and lonely. It was over. They were supposed to go back to work, function as usual. No one quite understood how they felt or what they were going through.
Shiva was established a long time ago. It still works. People are free to adapt parts of it to fit their needs. But I’m so pleased to be part of a community that knows what to do, when one is at a loss to know what one needs or too shy to ask for help.
Donna Linder Jaffe
Could you forward this letter to the administrative authority in the Israeli Department of Justice, which can overrule the conviction of Saber Kushour [the Arab man sentenced to 18 months in prison for rape by deception; he reportedly had sex with a Jewish woman while posing as a Jew].
The anonymous Jewish woman should be required to cover his legal expenses. The Judge who classified their one night consensual sexual event as a criminal “rape” should be disciplined for ethnic bias inconsistent with the law in any western democracy.
I rarely agree with the Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, whom I have met. Some of his editorials in Haaretz have suicidal implications for Israel’s security. But he is right in this case. The unnamed Jerusalem judge is sending a frightening message of prejudice to Palestinian Arabs and to Jews. The Judge’s ruling, if sustained, undermines the high legal reputation of the Israeli Supreme Court.
As a Zionist, I feel ashamed that the Israeli courts might continue to include such an ethnically biased judge.
Joseph W. Eaton
(The author is a professor emeritus of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. The letter was first sent to Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, and made available to The Chronicle.)