As a general rule, you are not expected to bring anything to a shiva call. Your very presence is all that matters, showing the mourners that you acknowledge their loss and pay your respects toward the departed.

That said, here are five things you may want to bring:

  • Prayers are (typically) held at a shiva home. Guys: If you will be attending morning services at the shivahouse, bring your tallitand tefillin.
  • If your visit will coincide with services, bring along your prayerbook of choice, or you can just use the ones provided.
  • Photos or other mementos. When applicable, a shiva call is a good time to share memories of the departed. If you have old photos or other items that will evoke fond reminiscences, feel free to bring them along.
  • Tissues. If you expect the visit to be emotional, having a small packet of tissues can be simpler than needing to ask people to pass you the tissue box, especially in a crowded room.
  • It is common for friends to provide food for the mourners (and their guests). There may be someone coordinating meals for the bereaved family, or you can just bring kosher take-out. This is not at all expected, so don’t stress if you come without.

Most importantly, make sure to come with a patient and sensitive heart, ready to listen to the mourners and respond appropriately.