Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Baptism and Mourning

Rather excitingly, we had a baptism on Sunday evening. Given the small numbers of the congregation here, it is not something which happens regularly – in fact, no-one can remember the last time a baby was baptised here! However, Adeck Mba, the father, is a professional footballer, playing for one of the teams here in Israel – and is a Presbyterian from Cameroon (The Basle Mission were active in that part of west Africa), his mother being an elder. So it was a privilege to baptise little Riya. Also a relief that there was a reasonable congregation of 18 there to witness it and offer support.

Having witnessed at the baptism the joy of new life a baby brings, a very good friend of mine from the hotel, Moshe (photo right), has just been through a very different experience, with the death of his father. Jewish burials take place usually within a day of the death happening different from Africa, where we often waited for days for family to arrive), after which the family hold shiva. This means that the family sit in the funeral house for 7 days. Mirrors are covered, and the family sit on the floor (or very low seating). They also rip their clothes as a sign of mourning. During shiva, a memorial candle is kept alight, and friends call for short visits. Men are not allowed to shave or have haircuts for 30 days, while women do not wear makeup.(At the hotel, the male staff are supposed to shave every day, but Moshe has been exempted for a month). After 7 days, a person can resume work, but in Moshe’s case, work at the hotel is combined with prayers three times a day (early morning at 5.30, late afternoon and evening) – and in Judaism, you need at least 10 people to pray, so it is not a case of rattling through some prayers in private, but of going to a synagogue for at least an hour.

Mourning for a parent actually lasts for a year, and during that time, the mourner is not supposed to go to parties or entertainment, nor is able to invite anyone for meals. Even music is avoided. Of course, many people do not necessarily keep all of this, but the religious would, and Moshe comes from quite a religious family.


  1. brendaurquhart_08@btinternet.com20 May 2010 at 21:27

    Hi Colin, I loved the story of little Riya's baptism. Please ask her Dad if Rev. Lukas Mba of his Cameroun Church is any relation. Lukas was one of my late husband's divinity students at Trinity College, Umuahia, Nigeria, in the early 1960's. I remember Lukas well. Thanks for your Blog. Best regards - Brenda Urquhart

  2. Hi Colin
    Just trying to see if I am linked to you !! re those baptism records -- well I know there was at least one during out time there and possibly Bungie had another before he left