Monday, June 17, 2013

Making a Shiva Call

We made a shiva call last week.

For those not familiar, shiva is the Jewish mourning period. The ritual of “sitting shiva” is when family members gather in one home while visitors gather to comfort and pay respect.

Kai’s grandmother’s sister had lost her husband. I tried to explain to Kai that he must be very respectful, as the family is feeling sad for their loss.

I recalled how he got very antsy during the latter portion of the wedding we recently attended, and tried to prepare for that eventuality. I brought along his iPad, and a Nintendo DS which is a handheld electronic game player that we got him as a special reward for making Level 4 at school. I also was prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, and did not expect to stay long.

He seemed very excited to go. I think he generally enjoys new experiences, and besides, Bubbe would be there with another present for him. I was glad that he wanted to go, but hoped that he wouldn’t be too inappropriately happy.

I had coached him on what to say to the immediate family. But oftentimes we coach him and he doesn’t do what we would like.

On this occasion, however, when he got the chance to speak with his grandmother’s sister, he very clearly said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” It brought a smile to her face and she remarked how other (typical) kids weren’t able to express themselves that well.

After that he wanted to go outside where other kids were playing. There was a large trampoline in the backyard, and Kai enjoyed jumping on that.

When the other kids got off the trampoline, Kai did, too.

He asked for his Nintendo DS. He seemed content to play by himself so I took the opportunity to go inside the house and speak with some of the family.

When I came back outside, I saw that Kai was taking pictures of various people with his DS. I learned that the device allows you to create a Mii, which is a cartoonish representation of yourself (or others). Then, you merge the Mii with a photo to get a funny-looking picture of the person.

Kai was going around talking to people, and asking them questions so he could create their Mii.

“What color are your eyes?”

“What color is your hair?”

“What does your hair look like?”

“What’s your favorite color?”

Then he would snap their picture.

And then, he would have to ask their name so that he could save the image.

He was not shy at all. He started out with the few people he knew, but soon was doing this with anyone he could get to cooperate, both adults and kids.

He certainly was much more sociable than I was.

Before long, it was getting past his bedtime. We really should have gotten going. But he did not want to leave. He was having too much fun.

Finally, it was time for everyone to go. And so he gave his relatives one more hug and we were off.

As we were leaving, he expressed, “This was a great party!”

I half-tried to explain that this was not really a party, and hoped that no one else heard him say that.

But, really, I think that he did a great job in providing a respite from the sadness, and in doing so brought comfort to those who were grieving.

And isn't that what making a shiva call is really all about?


  1. That was a great story because Kai, just by being Kai, had lightened the hearts of those in pain. I'll bet it was Kai's innocent face (and heart) which had made his grandmother's sister feel that his statement was heartfelt.

    Another step in the right direction for Kai. From article to article...he is maturing before my eyes.

    1. You put it well, Shiroi, when you said that Kai, just by being Kai, had lightened the hearts of those in pain.

      He seems to making a lot of progress these days, and it is very heartening to see.

  2. You have a nice blog. Do you want to follow each other in Google friend connect? Just follow me and leave a comment and I will follow you back :) We could follow each other on Google+ as well if you want. :) Cheers


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