Mourning My Mum

Tuesday, 17 September 2013
My experience has been included in the Forward’s series on Mourning

Shira Sebban
Mourning My Mom

When I lost my beloved mother a month ago, I was determined not to be marginalized as I had been during my father’s funeral and shiva 10 years earlier.
My father’s Modern Orthodox rabbi urged us not to respond to the embraces of friends at the funeral. He only agreed to attend shiva once at my parents’ city apartment. At his request, my mother, sister and I came to the synagogue each evening during shiva to hear Kaddish, only to find the main sanctuary cold and dark, with the men ensconced in the cheery annex used on weekdays. The annex did not have a mechitza, so we had to sit in the sanctuary row closest to the annex, the windows open so we could hear the prayers. This time, I explained that as our mother’s only children, my sister and I wanted to recite Kaddish. The empathic Chabad rabbi agreed — as long as a man said it with us. He allowed men and women to sit together at the funeral, and I gave the eulogy. Surrounded by family and friends, sitting shiva for my mother allowed me to grieve and commence healing — just as ancient Jewish wisdom intended.
—Shira Sebban
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Author: Shira Sebban

I am a writer and editor, passionate about helping refugees and about exploring the challenges life throws at us through my writing. A former journalist, I previously worked in publishing and taught French to university students. I am a member of Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney (SASS) and have also served on the board of my children’s school for the past 13 years, including three terms as vice-president. My work has appeared in online and print publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. I can be contacted at

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