Question: I converted to Judaism. When my parents pass on, I desire to sit shiva. My parents are supportive of my decisions, and of my living a Jewish life and raising a Jewish family. Should I expect my Synagogue to recognize my loss and notify members of the death and shiva times?
When a person converts, Judaism treats them as newly born - severing in the eyes of Halacha (Jewish law) any link to past relations. However, Judaism cherishes the value of hakarat hatov - recognizing the good that one has received and expressing that in appreciative conduct. One of the concepts within the sitting of shiva, is to show honour to the deceased. The sitting of shiva by a convert for a gentile parent - while not an obligation - reflects this hakarat hatov and should be recognized by the community. A synagogue may wish to denote in announcing this shiva that it is being undertaken as a voluntary expression of gratitude, but the community should encourage this practice and allow for the comforting of the bereaved by announcing shiva times, etc.
Rabbi Chaim Strauchler
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