we went to our friend's mum's funeral service yesterday. it was sad and strange...so many people we should be seeing more of and it sucks that it always happens at occasions like this (but also, on the brighter side, at weddings and baby-type stuff...big life stuff). i had never been to a jewish service before. the rabbi's cell phone went off! he was pretty embarrassed about it. it was actually really shocking...you could hear the ripples of displeasure murmuring up around the synagogue.
the actual service is quite short, but there was a few speeches from family and close friends. the service is really beautiful, bookended by a gentleman singing in hebrew. the melody sounds very, very old (to my neophyte ears) and it rises and falls in ancient cadences that reverberate with generations of belief. i like the traditions...although sitting shivah for the whole seven days seems epic. on the one hand, having an allocated, commonly accepted space of time in which you don't work and can focus on your grief and people can visit you seems like a good thing. on the other hand, according to our jewish friends, by the seventh day you're going a little stir-crazy.
it was a very, very sad day...made all the stranger because we didn't know the customs. death always makes a farce out of life and you're always grasping at the phantoms of social convention, as if knowing them and facility in them will somehow tether you to something solid. "what do i do?" "what do i say?" "is this appropriate to wear?" i don't know what it means when we turn to the banal as guideposts through life-changing events.