Shiva Call
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




Shiva Call

Shiva Call

Is it possible to pay a shiva call to a stranger? One woman discovers that it's not so strange at all.

by Renee Beth Khotim

Yesterday, I decided that I would make a shiva call to the Haymans. Mr. and Mrs. Hayman lost their only child last week when a suicide bomber blew up Sbarro’s pizzeria in Jerusalem. I am sure you are all aware of this event.

Shoshana, their pregnant daughter, lived in my community in New Jersey. I did not know Shoshana, and before yesterday, I did not know her parents, the Haymans. So, I was not so comfortable going to their house, while they were sitting shiva with their family and friends.

I walked up to the front door, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and then started to shake. I could not bring myself to walk through the door. What would I say? What would I do? How was I going to look at these people who lost their only child, and unborn grandchild?

How was I going to look at these people who lost their only child, and unborn grandchild?

My heart was racing. I clinched my teeth, and said to myself, "Renee, this is not about you!"

I tapped twice on the door. I walked in, and saw several people sitting around in a circle. I was not sure what to do. A woman invited me to sit next to her. I think she was a close family friend. I was silent for several minutes. I was very uncomfortable, and overwhelmed with sorrow.

I glanced at Mrs. Hayman just as she looked up at me. I told her that I recently moved to Passaic, but I did not know Shoshana. She took my hand in hers, and told me a story about Shoshana. She spoke to me for 10-15 minutes, holding my hand, and looking at me the entire time.

I knew then that I had made the right choice by walking through the door. I don't think that I have ever in my life seen such strength, courage, and trust in God. As Mrs. Hayman gripped my hands more firmly, and with the tears rolling down my face, I wondered if I would ever have half of her belief in God.

I thought that I would only stay for about 15 minutes, but 45 minutes later, I had to force myself to leave, as a friend was waiting for me to pick her up from work. Mrs. Hayman hugged me three times before I left, and as she embraced me tightly, she thanked me for being there. I walked out the door the same way I walked in it, shaking!

Sometimes sharing a tear is the only thing you can do.

I have met the Hayman's, and in some way, I know their daughter, Shoshana. I just wanted to share this experience with you. There are painful times in our lives. Sometimes, we don't know what to do, or what to say to someone in pain, so we avoid the situation.

I promise you, this is a mistake. Sometimes, just being there, and saying nothing is the best thing you can do. Sometimes just sharing a tear is the only thing you can do. And sometimes a warm embrace, even from a stranger, is not at all strange.

* * *

Memorial services for Shoshana (Judy) Greenbaum, the 31-year-old pregnant woman killed in the Sbarro terrorist bombing, will be held at the following locations:

Jerusalem - unveiling of the tombstone, at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.

New York - at 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 9, at the White Shul, Reads Lane in Far Rockaway.

Los Angeles - at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, at Kanner Hall.

Shoshana is the daughter of Dr. Alan & Shifra Hayman of Los Angeles.

Published: August 25, 2001


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Katie Fiona Scharansky, July 21, 2011 3:33 PM

Kindness is never inappropriate.

You did a kindess - and at a truly difficult time. This act will be remembered and appreciated by many in that family and beyond. Well done you! With best wishes, Katie and friends x

(12) Anonymous, March 15, 2011 7:32 PM

take a step an reach out .

when my huabnd died 2 year ago i w in shock. a person in th community died adn idint know them and i paid a shiva call adn understood th persons pain. ikne wah it w like ot laose a partner. this wa an elderly man agonizing ove hs ded wife. i actually drew some strength form this shiva visit. al jews ned to rach out to othr esepcially now . we ae all in crisis! fraylach purim to all.

(11) Judy Glass, September 7, 2001 12:00 AM

I am touched by what happened and I know there is no way to change the fact that Shoshana (Judy) is gone forever. More painful is the fact that with her her unborn child died. We all have to remeber her forever and her love for Jerusalem and Israel even in dangerous times.

(10) Larry Melsky, September 3, 2001 12:00 AM

A very moving article about the strength of this Jewish family , in the face of such tragedy.

I just wanted to send the Melsky
family's sincerest and warmest
condolences to the Hayman family on the tragic loss of their daughter Shoshana in Israel.
Ms. Khotim, your article proved that all Jews are one, in time of need. Whether we know the family
personally is irrelevant. We as Jews, should always strive to aid and comfort Jews in need (financially or physchologically)
as you did with your shiva call.
You are to be commended & admired for your
thoughtfulness in paying the shiva call to fellow Jews in need.

Larry & Rena Melsky

and comfort

(9) Kishan Boddapati, August 30, 2001 12:00 AM

Very well-written ...

Towards the end, Renee had this to say: "I have met the Hayman's, and in some way, I know their daughter, Shoshana. " Well, this is in fact so very true ... there's an old proverb which says, "whenever someone dies, a little of us also dies!" [I may not have the quote exactly correct but am sure this is the gist of it. I was saddened with what's been happening in and to Israel in recent times but Renee's story really makes it quite more personal! I truly wish the bereaved family courage and strength in this dark hour.
On other note, I am by religion,a Hindu Brahmin but have a lot of interest in Jewish matters. One reason I read this article is the word 'Shiva' caught my attention ... in Hindus, Shiva is the name of one of our gods ...

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!