Contact Us

Shiva for a Half-Sibling

Shiva for a Half-Sibling


Shiva, the seven-day period of mourning, is observed upon the passing of the seven close relatives listed in Leviticus: father, mother, wife (or husband), son, daughter, brother, and sister.1 2

But what about a half-sibling, is he or she considered to be a brother or a sister?

Based on the Talmud,3 the Code of Jewish Law states that one observes Shiva for half-siblings as well, provided that there is at least one common parent. (If they share a father then the obligation of mourning is biblically mandated. If they share only a common mother, the obligation is of rabbinic origin.4

All the best,

Rabbi Baruch Davidson




These relationships are enumerated within the context of the laws of the ritual impurity of the kohen [priest]. Ordinarily not allowed to have contact with the dead, he was, however, obligated to defile himself in order to bury these relatives. The oral tradition teaches that these obligations extend to the laws of mourning as well.


Moed Katan 20b.


Yoreh De'ah 374:4.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous February 6, 2017

step-siblings Unfortunately I recently lost a step-brother. When my family sat shiva my mother and biological siblings all sat shiva too.
We did so with permission of our rabbi, however I believe sitting shiva was a given, despite genetics he's still my brother... Reply

Norman Silver Spring, Maryland June 26, 2013

Re: Shiva for half brother you never knew I believe that even in such an instance one must sit shiva for this half brother, but you should consult with the rabbi of your local Orthodox community. Reply

Anonymous June 25, 2013

sitting shiva for half brother what if you never knew your half brother. do you still sit shiva for him? Reply

Baruch Davidson Brooklyn, NY March 9, 2011

Re: Jacob One candle in the home of the deceased is sufficient for the household. If the mourners are sitting Shiva elsewhere, there should also be one lit also wherever else the mourners observe the shiva.

Some kindle five candles representing the five mystical levels of the soul. Reply

Jacob Goldman Lod, Israel March 9, 2011

Shevha How many candles during the shevha for a father

Thanks Reply

M H September 16, 2010

step-siblings step-siblings aren't related to each other at all, even though their respective parents are married to each other. One doesnt need to and probably shouldnt sit shiva for them, although you can ask a rabbi. You can, however, be a comforting, helpful presence for the rest of your step-family. May we only share good times! Reply

Isabel New York City September 7, 2010

What about step siblings? Should one sit shiva for step siblings? Reply

Introduction: Dealing with Death; The Jewish Approach
Life to Life Library


Yahrtzeit Calculator
Kaddish Service
Yahrtzeit Reminder
Arrange Kaddish for a Loved One