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Virtual Shiva and Gathering: Instructions for Guests

What is a Viewneral®

A Viewneral® is an interactive and collaborative funeral service that virtually allows families and friends to memorialize, eulogize, and celebrate loved ones. This virtual service can be used to view funerals, burials, and other forms of gatherings, such as celebrations of life, memorials, and shivas online, using a desktop, tablet or mobile device.Shiva, as it relates to Jewish mourning, is the seven-day mourning period for the immediate family of the deceased which consists of the spouse, children, parent or sibling. This article provides the basic information on what a virtual shiva is and how to attend a virtual shiva.

What is a Virtual Shiva?

A virtual shiva is very similar to a traditional shiva, in which a gathering of family, friends, and the community come together to honor and memorialize a loved one. However, instead of guests congregating at a families’ home to sit shiva and conduct a minyan service, attendees and participants interact through the use of technology. Guests are able to attend from the comfort of their own home or any other remote location by using their computer, tablet, mobile phone, or other device. A real time video of the shiva, with sound, provides for interaction and participation for people that are not physically at the shiva house.

Who are Guests and Attendees?

Guests or attendees are anyone who is attending, joining or clicking the link to join watch and/or listen to a virtual shiva or gathering. These individuals are family members, friends, rabbis and other clergy, co-workers and colleagues, and other community members that want to pay their respects to the family.

Who are Speakers?

Speakers are individuals that actively participate and are fully engaged in the virtual shiva. Speakers may include family members, friends, rabbis, cantors or other clergy members. Similar to a traditional shiva or memorial, the family may ask you in advance to speak. A speaker will receive an invitation by email prior to the shiva and will have audio and video available to ensure that you can be seen and heard. This invitation includes information about the shiva service, including the time and links to appropriate shiva platters and other sympathy gifts that can be sent to the mourners. This link is unique to the speaker and should not be shared with the general public. For more information and guidance on how to participate as a speaker in virtual shiva, please click here for detailed instructions.

How to Attend Virtual Shiva

  1. The shiva information can be found can be found on the funeral home website.
  2. Each funeral home partner maintains a list of all upcoming funeral services on its website. On the service page for the individual, there is a link to a ShivaPlan™ that contains the funeral service information and Viewneral™ service link.
  3. Click on the link to the Viewneral™ Service (link will be active during the funeral times).
  4. You may be asked to launch or install the Zoom application if you have not used it before.
  5. Once launched, you will be asked to type in your full name and email address. The complete guest list, including this information will be provided to the family following the funeral service.
  6. Prior to the shiva beginning you will see a box with a message stating the “shiva will begin shortly”.
  7. You will automatically join the shiva when it begins.
  8. Out of respect for the family, your video and microphone are automatically disabled and muted.
  9. When connected to the virtual shiva, you may interact with the family by leaving them a message using the “Chat” function in the program.
  10. Simply press the “Chat” button. This is similar to writing a condolence message or signing a guestbook virtually. Your messages will be provided to the family following the shiva. Please use this button only for personal messages directed to mourners.
  11. If you would like to speak with the family:
    • Step 1: To notify the family that you would like speak, click on “Raise Hand”
    • Step 2: At this time the family may instruct for you to speak (make sure that your microphone is unmuted)
    • Step 3: After you are finished speaking, click on “Lower Hand” (make sure that your microphone is muted)
  12. When you are ready to leave the virtual shiva, just close the browser screen.

Virtual Shiva Etiquette

  1. If you are able, join the virtual shiva five-minutes early to make sure your technology is running properly. This way you will not be late if there is a connection issue or something on your device is not working.
  2. Remember to keep your hands off the keyboard and close your email and other programs so you can give the shiva your complete attention.
  3. Dress properly and comb your hair. Although you are remote, it is still a shiva so you want to be respectful. Remember people may be able to see you.
  4. If you would like to speak with the family, keep your device muted until it is time to talk. There is usually a two-to-three second delay after someone talks, so it is best to speak clearly and concisely.
  5. Choose an appropriate background and find a quiet space that appears professional and is free from distractions.


For more information about having a Viewneral®, please contact your funeral director or at 877.788.6570.

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