PRAYERS AT THE SHIVA HOUSE
Although it has always been customary for women mourners to sit in the same room as male mourners during the day, it was often the case that they were expected to go into a separate room while davening (prayers) took place.
It is, however, acceptable for women mourners to remain in the same room as the men for prayers, so that they may participate if they wish. They should, however, sit in a position away from the men and wear a suitable head covering.
Similarly women visitors may stay in the room and participate in the davening if they wish and if there is sufficient space. They should sit apart from the men. Siddurim should be provided for women mourners and visitors.
Kaddish is recited during Shiva week & thereafter in respect of a parent, for eleven months, whilst Kaddish for other relatives is for thirty days (Sheloshim).
WOMEN AND KADDISH
The question sometimes arises whether a woman may say Kaddish,
particularly if there are no sons. This topic has been debated over the
centuries by learned Rabbis and Dayanim and anyone wanting to
pursue this topic further is recommended to read the article by
Rochelle L. Millen “The Female Voice of Kaddish” in Jewish Legal
Writings by Women (Oxford University Press)
Women saying Kaddish is not a concept introduced by feminist Jewish women in the 21st Century. Historical sources show that it was a practice in 17th Century Amsterdam, for women to say Kaddish during Shiva at home and would attend daily services in order to pay tribute to their recently deceased loved ones.
The reciting of Kaddish at the grave, during the funeral, was also a practice among women in certain communities.
Some authorities find it quite acceptable for a woman to say Kaddish in the privacy of her home during Shiva, with or without the accompaniment of fellow mourners.
It is also acceptable for a woman to say Kaddish in the synagogue in the women’s section where other women will respond.
Any woman who feels that she wishes to recite Kaddish should discuss this with the Rabbi.
There is a Post Bereavement Support facility in our community, run by trained volunteers. If you, or anyone you know, feels lonely and would like to talk to someone in confidence, please telephone 07503 321457.