ben Alexander

In Hebrew, ‘ben’ (בן) means ‘son’ or ‘son of’.

* * *

David Bogomolny was born in Jerusalem to parents who made Aliyah from the USSR in the mid-70’s. He grew up in America, and returned to Israel as an adult. He works for Hiddush – Freedom of Religion in Israel. He and his wife and daughter live in Jerusalem.

He began writing the ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish for the Atheist’ in Jerusalem, Israel, 30 days after burying his father in South Brunswick, New Jersey, USA. His series was originally published on the Times of Israel blogs.

Read his kaddish memoir.

62 thoughts on “ben Alexander”

  1. Hi there, glad to meet you. I just the your poem section. Loved the recent one about your father. I guess I understand the feeling of knowing other languages

  2. I am sorry to hear. But you are doing a great job by remembering through our poems. I have a very curious question why did you call your blog skeptic kaddish and you have a section of your blog called kaddish year.

    1. well, the “kaddish” is a traditional Jewish mourning ritual, and I wanted to commit myself to it… but I struggle with faith, and I struggle with much of the mythology behind the purpose of “kaddish”… Also, my father was an atheist, and he was not interested in ritual… so I felt that I had to research and write about “kaddish” for at least two major reasons: 1) to preserve my sanity by giving myself a voice in response to the tradition, and 2) to honor my intellectual father by researching and personalizing the experience of “kaddish” so that it would be more than simply a ritual – but rather something truly meaningful.

  3. Wow so much of meaning behind your blog. I learnt something today. Got to appreciate the thought though.You truly are creating a world of your own through our work.

      1. Sorry Ben, that is young! I’m not quite twice your age at 70 and I’m not sure I’m a match for your wit and wisdom here! But like I said, I’m here to learn. PS I’m in Northern Ireland and have no Jewish connections that I’m aware of.

        1. Ashley, I’ve never been to Ireland, but I do enjoy Irish whiskey 🥃

          P.S. Thank you so much for the kind compliment!

          P.P.S. Ultimately, we’re all just human. Real wisdom is recognizing that, I think.

  4. You visited and liked my blog, so now I return the courtesy. I truly like your blog, the memories, stories you tell, and thoughts you explore seemingly all related to multi-cultural Judaism as you follow your family’s trek from Russia to Israel to the US and back and forth. I know how much effort you put into this–thank you for it.

  5. Beautiful piece about your father David. Really thoughtful, thought provoking and interesting. I was surprised to hear he was an atheist but everyone knows who reads my blog that I am not only a believer but have enormous faith. Although I respect everyones choice to worship their religion, of course. I just found that interesting. I love the way you ending this tribute to your father. Your unique style of writing is very lovely. Love and hugs, Joni

    1. Thanks, Joni.

      I’m not an atheist myself (that’s why this is the skeptic’s kaddish), but I am certainly not somebody of enormous faith by ANY stretch… judging by the people that I’ve met throughout my life, I’ve found almost no correlation between those who are goodhearted and those who have faith. There are wonderful people who believe, and there are horrible people who believe. There are wonderful people who don’t believe, and there are horrible people who don’t believe. That’s what I’ve found 🙂

      1. You are 100 percent right my friend. I hope if you met me in a store and we had some sort of exchange you would be able to see a light in me that made you wonder what my thing was. I can spot a person with great faith in a store sometimes without talking to them and I will say, “Your a person of great faith aren’t you!” Usually the person will smile and share a bit of their story. Have a blessed evening my friend. Hugs 🤗 Joni

  6. Hi, Ben, I noticed that after reading my post once almost two months ago and leaving enthusiastic comments, you are since popping up regularly to tell me that you liked my comment here or there. I have stopped reading your posts because it is a common courtesy to read each other work.

    Joanna

    1. Hi, Joanna.

      My ‘liking’ a comment of yours on somebody else’s blog is sincere and has nothing to do with either your blog or mine. I have no expectations that you or anyone else will read my blog. Personally, I have found that I am especially drawn to poetry blogs and blogs that share personal narratives.

      I wish you all the very best,
      David

  7. Hello, I could not post a response on You recetn dverse prompt on endings and beginnings, it moved me greatly, I will try to intrude with my response here, Peace friend:

    between the tears and the oceans so many waters divide us from when we want to drink them down the useless waves that don’t even know it seems we tried to leave them flopping or insinuating first out of primordial mud but still they drag us back there is that one thing for a while at least they will never have the inkling of depths we have never seen but know are there within them in the darkness and the fires exploding across reaches all so useless compared to that we hold here for this flash in this beautiful pan holding those children tight until they leave joy in glorious flight while bereaved we look back none of this can be done it seems by either the oceans or the stars we hold those also from whom we sprang and that little wave that you are raising on that shore may yet still carry that same smell of recognition and arms encircling like the moon that pulls the waters and the rock it dances round and the vaults of heaven crawling across a horizon where our eyes fool us as we actually whirl with them through this emptiness that is not a void so useless except that here we are knowing this all somehow for a time so what do the stars or the waters know anyway of that love anyway?

    love your poem, sad for your loss, hope your mother is not alone, glad for your love that shines through, so nice to meet you.
    -Lona

  8. Thank you for your thoughts. I’m struggling with grief on a new level. It was brutal when my father died. We were close and it was a bit unexpected. Mom was difficult, but death from old age isn’t unexpected. This year I lost my son. There are no words. I’m so grateful for your poetry and writing. It was what I needed this morning. Blessings in the New Year!

    1. Gregory,

      I… am deeply sorry to hear about your loss. When I was writing about my father’s death during that first year after he died, I actually thought about how much more horrible it would have been to have lost somebody else, even as horrible as his death was to me.

      In THIS POST, I wrote on June 23, 2019:

      … a dreadful question: what if it had been somebody other than Papa? Somebody other than a parent of mine?

      As you say, and as I can only very humbly repeat:

      There are no words.

      I am deeply, deeply sorry.

      In Jewish tradition, when someone dear dies, the traditional words of comfort to the mourners are:

      Blessed is the True Judge.

      Yours,
      David

  9. Hi Ben, I’m happy that you liked one of my Haikus. I’m new to blogging and just starting out. I saw that your blog has a unique sense about it. I especially like the area where you have a chat area. Is it possible in any blog, like mine? Thanks.

  10. Hi ben Alexander! I’ve been visiting your site quite a few times. I enjoy your work and your page! However, I have no end of difficulty formally “liking” your posts due to technical issues between my phone and WordPress, inc. Just know I’m out here liking, whether I’m able to formally indicate it or not.
    Dave

  11. Thanks for liking my post about my mother’s clothes. She died Dec. 18th 2020- not from Covid but certainly the isolation contributed to her decline. I know how lucky I am to have had her for so long– she was 90– but still wish we had had more time. I am sorry for your loss of your father and impressed with your writing about his death. I’m hoping to post weekly for a year – something that ties in memories of my mother. Not sure I can find enough topics.
    I am not religious- raised very secular and cultural.

    1. Lisa, I’m so sorry for your loss. The traditional Jewish phrase that I’ve been taught to console mourners with is: ‘Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet’ which means ‘God is the True Judge’.

      I struggle with faith myself, but having something suitable to say helps me when I can’t find words of my own.

      If I can help you in any way, please let me know. Personally, I found writing about my Papa’s death to be very healing – and now, some two-and-a-half years after he died, I am so glad that I recorded my thoughts and experiences during that year. My writing, reading, and praying really anchored me.

      Yours,
      David

  12. Здравствуйте, Давид. Your poem about your father touched me very deeply. My father’s passing was also the reason for starting the blog almost five years ago. His Yuhrzeit is three days before Pesach, and I still feel the loss just as deeply as on that first Pesach without him at my Seder.
    May your father’s Neshama have a speedy Aliyah.
    I will continue exploring your blog.
    Wish you the best,
    Dolly.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Dolly. My father died more than two-and-a-half years ago at this point. It’s surreal to put an amount of time to that. It seems so long ago in some ways, and simultaneously just like yesterday to me.

      I’m sorry for your loss – the holidays are now some of the hardest times for my Mom who always spent them with him together.

      BDE.

        1. Well, my father was born and raised in Moscow. My mother was born and raised in Vilnius. I was born in Jerusalem and raised in the USA. My wife was born and raised in Rostov on Don. My daughter was born and is being raised in Jerusalem 🙂

        2. What a mix! So you are a Yerushalmi, and so is your daughter – that’s very special.
          When you mentioned “Jewish underground,” I thought your parents had originated either from the Northern Capital (Leningrad), or from the Old Capital (Moscow). We didn’t call it that. I had some connections in both capitals’ underground so I am familiar with their mentality.

        3. Wow; that’s really, really interesting, Dolly. I’m very glad to have ‘met’ you fortuitously this way via our blogs.

          Sincerely,
          David

        4. Curious how we both asked the same question about origins at the same time and now sent each other links at the same time – have you noticed? Same wavelength, I suppose.
          Have a wonderful day,
          D

    1. That’s very sweet of you, Angela. I appreciate your kind compliment. It’s really just basic stuff – I picked a ‘theme’ through WordPress and went with it 🙂

      Yours,
      David

  13. My own papa was born the same year as yours, but died two years prior. He doesn’t have his own Wiki entry, but he was known nationally within his own scientific field. And while I was unable to even start the grieving process until just over two years ago, I still grieve, still mourn.

    It wasn’t until I started to grieve that I was truly able to find my voice, in a way I never had before, and I have been able to create my own artistic works because of my dad – his influence, his lessons, and his example.

    I still miss him every day.

    Your site is a beautiful tribute, and I greatly anticipate reading more of it. 🙂

  14. Thank you for coming by my blog! Easy to see your father was a big part of your life.That has been opposite in my life. What does “kaddish” mean? Read and liked the seamless-ness of your last poem, but couldn’t find where to comment on that post. Jesh

    1. Thanks so much, Jesh.

      Kaddish is a hymn of praises (doxology) about God found in Jewish prayer services. The term “Kaddish” is often used to refer specifically to “The Mourner’s Kaddish”, said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services. Following the death of a child, spouse, or sibling it is customary to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for thirty days, or for eleven months in the case of a parent, and then on every anniversary of the death.

      After my father died, I wrote about the experience of mourning him here: https://skepticskaddish.com/my-kaddish-journey/

      All best,
      David

  15. Hi David, I am old, which means that technology sometimes challenges me. But if this message gets through, I think I’ve got the particular issue of your web page solved–it works on my laptop, but not my phone. I don’t know what that’s about.
    I’ve been stopping by your site often and enjoying it. The last post I liked was Hopes, or Smoke Rings.
    I’ve been pondering your story from time to time. I’ve never been to Jerusalem, but given my background and my profession, one day I hope to be there. Tell me, is it as cool as I think it would be living in Jerusalem? We all plant ourselves somewhere on earth and make a life. But I believe that our environment shapes our identity to a great degree. I have to think that Jerusalem would make a powerful impression on who a person is, and the life options available to a person. I would appreciate your comments on this. So, is it as cool as I think it would be living in Jerusalem?

    1. David,

      Thanks for reaching out to me 🙂

      I actually wrote a poem about living in Jerusalem – https://skepticskaddish.com/2020/07/20/peaces-or-jerusalem/ – and that reflects some of my feelings about it.

      I was born here in Jerusalem, but I was raised in the USA, and I only returned to live here as an adult when I was nearly 30 years-old. It’s not easy, but it feels more like home to me than anywhere else that I’ve ever been. I’m not so focused on spirituality or the supernatural, personally, but I feel deeply connected to this city as my people’s ancient capital (even though technically the ancient capital was only the Old City, rather than the rest of modern Jerusalem).

      Also, I love that my daughter is growing up here – that is the most meaningful thing I can imagine.

      Sincerely,
      David

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