Monday, March 07, 2011

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Deepest Sympathy Basket

I was just on a Jewish Kosher baskets website; I got an email from them advertising Purim baskets, but when I went onto their site, I explored "beyond Purim."

Shabbat, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Birthday, Anniversary, Get Well, New Baby/Brit, College Dorm baskets and packages are listed with a wide offering of goodies.

Then to my utter surprise, I found a section for Shiva/Condolences, and began to explore. My cynical self rose to the surface as I perused the goods.

Dried fruit platters, nut platters, rugelach tins, mandelbroit, chocolate arrays, bagels packages seem to be the natural way to go. People need comfort food at a time like this if they choose to eat at all.

But WAIT. Wow...gourmet packages are offered too. Gourmet cheeses, pates, jams, crackers are offered up in expensive but heartfelt style..with Deepest Sympathy...

Tell me how many mourners you know whom you don't have to nudge to eat or drink just a little bit. "Not now," they say, or "I can't eat anything," they tell you. You suggest strongly then that they have to eat something; shiva is difficult and they have to keep up their strength.

Do beautifully presented gourmet baskets have a place in a house of mourning? Does a bit of fresh Norweigian lox on a marble bagel imported from one of NY's finest kosher bakeries, followed by a croissant spread with a Swiss jam and a fine glass of herbal tea really make all the difference? "Wow, I just HAD to have something from that Deepest Sympathy basket or I would have been so weak."

I think we can save fancy, gourmet snacks for better occasions. Bring out the roasted chicken, chicken soup, potatoes and garden salad...and offer it up with sincere condolences. Those will serve just fine....

4 comments:

Melody said...

You make a good point.
I was told by my rabbi that not only was the food originally for the mourners (and not the guests, tooooo) but also not to talk to the mourners (just perhaps walk by and nod that you are there...)
Why? Because they are in such deep grief and shock they need to go through it and if they want to talk, the will call for you.
Many people may not agree with it...but that's the way it's supposed to go according to Torah...(So I hear...)

Robin said...

It does seem a tad inappropriate. Yet, your description of a croissant spread with Swiss Jam made me drool. Could be this low carb diet.

torontopearl said...

Robin, can't take you anywhere...

Melody, it's true. Two years ago tomorrow that my dad passed away (secular calendar) and he was buried the same day, a day before Purim. Although we knew the halachot of shiva, we couldn't adhere to all of them. Sometimes we couldn't help but greet, and say thank you for coming and even introduce people to each other. The social niceties don't leave so quickly or easily, even where you're on the couch. I was aware of trying to make people feel comfortable while they tried to bring comfort to my family.

Galit Breen said...

You make such interesting points, friend! I think people want to do *something* and fancy is certainly *something." But I hear you- handwritten cards, hugs, a listening ear- much more authentic!