At Temple Isaiah, our Yizkor (Memorial) services on the festivals are among the most beautiful of ways to remember the generations that came before us. This Shavuot, we are experimenting with holding the Yizkor prayer service in the evening of the second day of Shavuot. This service (about one hour in length) will take place on Sunday night, May 20, 2018 at 7pm in the Sanctuary. We hope you will join us for this meaningful service of memory. —Rabbi Craig Axler
Admittedly, I initially attended extremely early morning Yizkor services (not the Yom Kippur type) to ensure that there would be a minyan present. But, like most things in Judaism, the significance comes when you show up and certainly after you experience and engage. What I found was the following:
- Remembering is a good thing, even the bad stuff. I came to the conclusion that it seems like I use my mind to remember more than for most anything else. Remembering about people is a worthwhile activity. It makes me feel like I am part of something. It makes me feel grateful they were in my life. It’s hard to remember everyone who impacted our lives at one moment or even in a series of moments. When I try to remember, my mind sometimes wanders and either brings in new memories or makes me think of events or experiences I shared with those I was thinking of. All of this fills me with a feeling of peacefulness, wonder, and completeness.
- Joining with others who share a commitment to memory makes me happy. Even if I am not familiar with everyone who makes the effort to show up, we share a common thread. We show up! We spend an hour praising God, joining as a People, singing, and thinking. We mention names of those whose lives impacted ours and we relate to each other. Even though many must turn back on their “switch” and return to the rapid-paced world of work, we all were able to stop and listen as well as raise our voices in unison for a higher purpose.
- Finally, I get to hear the stories of people’s lives. During the recitation of the names on our Memorial Plaque, I hear the last names of congregants whose children are now my friends. I realize that all of them, in their own way, were links in the Jewish chain we recognize as the shoulders upon which we stand. We are also given opportunities to share our own stories of those of whom we are thinking. Those stories, for me, are the highlight of the Yizkor hour. They are filled with emotion and smiles and tears. They bring meaning to those who made a difference.
So, what started as just a way of helping to have enough bodies present for traditional saying of Kaddish led to bringing more meaning into my own life. It is now part of my yearly routine. I am grateful.