Having witnessed at the baptism the joy of new life a baby brings, a very good friend of mine from the hotel, Moshe (photo right), has just been through a very different experience, with the death of his father. Jewish burials take place usually within a day of the death happening different from Africa, where we often waited for days for family to arrive), after which the family hold shiva. This means that the family sit in the funeral house for 7 days. Mirrors are covered, and the family sit on the floor (or very low seating). They also rip their clothes as a sign of mourning. During shiva, a memorial candle is kept alight, and friends call for short visits. Men are not allowed to shave or have haircuts for 30 days, while women do not wear makeup.(At the hotel, the male staff are supposed to shave every day, but Moshe has been exempted for a month). After 7 days, a person can resume work, but in Moshe’s case, work at the hotel is combined with prayers three times a day (early morning at 5.30, late afternoon and evening) – and in Judaism, you need at least 10 people to pray, so it is not a case of rattling through some prayers in private, but of going to a synagogue for at least an hour.
Mourning for a parent actually lasts for a year, and during that time, the mourner is not supposed to go to parties or entertainment, nor is able to invite anyone for meals. Even music is avoided. Of course, many people do not necessarily keep all of this, but the religious would, and Moshe comes from quite a religious family.