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Falk Funeral home, Pennsburg Pa.
Shivashade is a family owned and operated concern on Long Island NY.
Irwin Maltz shares the story of how the passing of his father gave him, his three brothers and their families the inspiration to turn a family tragedy into a growing business.
They say that every dark cloud has a silver lining...in our case it had a paper one!
My brothers and I, along with our mother, wives and children, lost our beloved father, Bernard Maltz, in November of 2006 after a long, tough battle with cancer. Our father always instilled in us the power of family and to always look for the good; for the "silver lining". When he passed away we planned to sit Shiva at my Long Island home. Being brought up with a strong Jewish background, my brothers and I wanted to do everything "kosher" and prepare the house for a proper and respectful mourning period.
For those not familiar with the customs of the Jewish religion, when a parent, sibling or spouse passes away there are traditions to be observed, one of which is the sitting of Shiva, a week-long formal mourning period. During this time, it is customary that all of the mirrors in the Shiva home be covered.
Our entire immediate family gathered in my home, looked around at my mirrored walls, and faced a dilemma; how do we respect Jewish tradition and cover all of these mirrors? My wife, who keeps an impeccable home, shuddered at the thought of messy glass wax to cover the mirrors. The walls were too large to cover with sheets, and we didn't know what to do. It was at this time that one of my sister in laws suggested using paper shades, similar to the self-adhesive ones that builders or interior designers would use as temporary shades to cover the mirrors.
Well, anything was worth a try. We adapted these shades to fit our need. Their ease of use, with adhesive tape and adjustable sizing were just what were needed to solve the mirror problem. We were able to cut the shades, or place them side by side, according to the size of the mirror. We used clips to shorten the shades as needed. All of the mirrors in my home were covered in less than fifteen minutes.
During that extremely sad and difficult week, the many friends, relatives and rabbis who came to offer their condolence, would complement us on the elegant way that we covered the mirrors. On more than one occasion, people commented on our "shiva shades". They were a simple yet stylish solution, which enabled us to adhere to our Jewish customs. One evening while sitting with our immediate family and reflecting on the day, the topic of "shiva shades" came up. Suddenly, someone said, "why use a schmata when you can use a shiva shade??" Laughter broke across the table for the first time in many days. We started talking; if our family had a problem covering the mirrors, many other Jewish families must as well. At such a difficult time when a family is mourning, this simple creation can make setting up the Shiva house less stressful and easier.
The next morning, we started to talk about taking our idea to the next step and going into business. ShivaShade Inc. was born. We started talking to funeral homes and synagogues in our area to see if they would be interested in offering ShivaShades to those individuals that they knew who were in mourning. Quickly, we began to get orders for our product. We have also started attending funeral director and bereavement conventions. For my brothers and I, The ShivaShade business has become our passion - allowing us to keep our father's memory alive.
In the months since our father has passed, our business has grown exponentially. We have Rabbis and funeral homes distributing our products as far away as California.
We have also discovered new markets, learning that many other cultures share in the tradition of covering the mirrors in a time of mourning.
From day one, this has been a family run business - with each of us lending our talents to help get the business off of the ground. One grandson developed the Web site, while another grandson developed the logo. A granddaughter took the photos demonstrating how the ShivaShades were to be hung, which are now seen on our Internet site.
My brothers and I created ShivaShade, Inc. in memory of our beloved father, Bernard Maltz. We are a family owned and operated company, with three generations involved in the production, distribution and marketing of our product. Shiva Shade is the "paper" lining to our dark cloud, and we know that our father is looking down on us with pride.