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Ask the rabbi Family and Society Year of Mourning for Parents

Avelut and Birthday party

Question
Can someone clarify something for me please? Am I allowed to do a birthday party for my daughter outside of my home? For example, can we invite her friends to attend her birthday party at a community center? My father Z”L passed away recently January 2010. Am I allowed to invite her cousins? Can I attend or can my husband organize it and I do not attend? I understand that as a daughter I am not allowed to attend any parties because I am still mourning. Is this correct? Thank you
Answer
The rule is that one does not attend any parties during the 12 months of mourning for a father or mother. Only for exceptional cases such as a child’s marriage is attendance permitted under certain terms and restrictions. Nevertheless, a birthday party is not considered a Seudat Mitzvah (mitzvah meal) and is not one of the exceptional cases; therefore one should not participate in a birthday party. These laws of Aveilut do not apply to grandchildren so you can definitely invite your daughter’s cousins. You may hold the party at your home or anywhere else. You may also prepare for the party as long as you don’t participate in the party itself. If they play musical instruments at the party then you should not be present. [שו"ע ורמא יו"ד סימן שצא סעיף ב, פני ברוך סימן כ וסימן לג סעיף ג]. May Hashem console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
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