The first meal eaten by the mourners when they return home from the funeral is called the Seudat Havra-ah, the meal of recovery or condolence. It is a private meal for immediate family members and is not a public condolence event.

At this meal the mourners are not allowed to eat from their own food; instead the meal is provided by relatives and friends, or the community. This custom allows the community to show concern for the welfare of the mourners and to extend a comforting hand in the time of greatest need.

If it is not possible for friends, relatives, or the community to provide the meal, one may partake of his or her own food.

If the burial was performed during the day, the meal is served until nightfall. If the burial was completed after nightfall, the mourners do not have to partake of this special meal but may eat of their own food right away.

If one forgot and ate the first meal of his own food, he does not have to eat the special meal before eating other foods.

On a Friday or on the day leading into a Jewish holiday (Erev Yom Tov), one does not eat this meal after the ninth "Halachic" hour of the day (calculated by dividing the time between sunrise and sunset into twelve parts). Mourners can skip this meal so that they will have an appetite for the evening Shabbat or holiday meal.

Foods That Are Served

In addition to bread or bagels, it customary to serve peeled hard-boiled eggs, for they are round and symbolize the cycle of life.

The bread is placed in the hands of the mourners by others. After eating the bread and an egg, one may eat other foods. At this meal, one is permitted to drink wine, but in moderation.

On the intermediate days of Sukkot and Passover (Chol Hamoed) the bread and egg are replaced by cake (or matza) and coffee (or juice).

The mourners cannot be included in a Zimun of ten for the recitation of the Grace After Meals, but may be part of a Zimun of three. (Zimun is a special blessing added to the beginning of the Grace After Meals, when three or more men are at the meal.)