Sinai Banner


A reflection by Rabbi Shapiro, October 13, 2011

Something tender happened at services a few weeks ago.

As some of you may know, during the last year I have been doing something different with the yahrzeit list on Friday and Saturday. Rather than just reading a list that sometimes runs 25 or more names and then asking for kaddish, I’ve asked people to let us know if they are there to remember someone. I’ve asked if one of the names on the list is important in a personal way to someone present. If so, I’ve invited people to say a little something to the congregation.

And the invitation has worked. On most occasions, one or two people have said a few things about their loved one.

So there we were at services on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago when the process worked better than ever. It worked because that morning only about 15 people were present so when one of those present said she was there to honor her mother with a kaddish, we were in a setting that allowed her to say more. Actually, much more. She and I had a small dialogue with the others present listening in.

We learned how her mother had come to this county early last century. How old she was when she made the trip. How her mother had taken over family responsibility and essentially become mother (and father) to her other siblings. How she made a home and made a life in America.

As I said, it was tender. Also touching and beautiful.
Instead of a rote reading of names, suddenly at least one name of someone long gone had come to life.
What a perfect way to do Kaddish.

It wasn’t forced. Actually, I know there were other people present to say kaddish who chose not to speak and that was fine. But this one person did speak, and I think she felt good for having done so. Plus…through her speaking she helped others remember something about their own loved one.

You could say it was cathartic. It was an emotionally positive outlet.

Or you could say…it was holy.

Kadosh…kaddish….Saying Kaddish that morning became kadosh…holy.

I’m glad I was there.

© 2017/5777 Sinai Temple 1100 Dickinson St. Springfield Massachusetts 01108