top of page

The Sign of Death in Israel

In Israel, when someone dies, we sit shiva. I will explain that in a minute. However you know that someone has died because a sign is posted for seven days at the home where they are grieving. Since most of Israel’s population dwell in apartments, the sign is often posted at the entrance to the building. It could be the deceased’s home or the home of an immediate relative. The sign looks like the image above.

This particular sign is written in the name of her family and has been hanging on our building door for the past few days. It says:

With great regret and sorrow we are informing (people) of the death of my wife, our mother and grandmother. Underneath in larger letters is her name, and below that is information on the funeral, and even though it is written in the future tense, the funeral most likely took place just after the sign went up. Next, it lists the mourners, her husband’s name, the names of her son and two daughters as well as their spouses.

Unsettling Sign

I have to admit I find these signs unsettling. For native-born Israelis, it is all they have

The Entrance to my Apartment Building with the Death Notice

known. But I don’t come from a culture where, when someone passes, you are confronted with a large black and white sign that screams at you: Someone has died! Someone has passed into Eternity!

First, I began to index my neighbors. Who died? Did I know them? Was it the English teacher on the 3rd floor or maybe that strange older fellow on the 1st floor who once asked me to help him connect his speakers to his computer? I don’t think it was Russian guy I see at the gym all the time. What if it was my neighbor Erica, a Holocaust survivor, or her husband? You see before I even have a chance to read the name, this massive sign has already injured my soul.

I look at the name—she’s a female. She has grandkids. Someone handwrote that they are sitting shiva on the first floor. I don’t recognize the name, but then again I don’t know the names of all the inhabitants of the sixteen units in my building. I conclude that I did not know her and they are sitting shiva at the home of one of her children.

What is Shiva?

Sitting Shiva is a seven-day mourning period immediately following the death of a loved one. Because a funeral in Judaism is supposed to be held within 24 hours, the shiva typically begins after the funeral. Shivameans seven. During this period, grieving family members wear a ripped peace of clothing to symbolize they are in mourning.

Friends and other relatives supply food and comfort during this week. It is considered a mitzvah (good deed) to visit a home in mourning during shiva. Prayer services are held at the home, and often neighbors will be drafted to come, no matter how religious or secular they are, in order to make up a minyan, a quorum of 10 adult (over 13) men—without which, you cannot have the prayer service. In the past, I have been asked to join.

As I write this, two floors below, a man has lost his wife. Three children have buried their mother. And several grandchildren are mourning the loss of their savta. And if not for the ominous sign downstairs, I would have no idea. If not for the sign, I never would have known about Chasiya Teller, beloved wife, mother and grandmother. I am sure she will be missed.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Ebook 2.jpg

Get Ron's Book, "The Coming End-Time Awakening" FREE

When you Subscribe to Ron's emails from Israel.




Short Bio

PROFILE v3.png

Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this is my blog. I serve as the President of Shelanu TV.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Shelanu TV

Image by Josh Appel
eMailer-MAY20-ShelanuTV 2.png

"We reached 260,000 Israelis in just two weeks. With your help we can do this every week!"

bottom of page