It took more than eight months following the end of my year-long kaddish journey for me to create this website. That’s eight months of not writing after a year of producing meaningful content nearly weekly. I made several attempts, but my imagination would consistently betray me. I was spent.
In an interesting twist, my adventitious decision to post my ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ series on a platform as public as TOI forced me to strive for the highest quality of authorship during my year of mourning. Once I had entered into the process in full view of the world, I couldn’t back down from my self-assigned project. For me, it was about quantity (because I was limited to that one year of aveilut) and quality both. Anything but my best would have embarrassed me.
Having searched extensively (blog #29) for other Jewish mourners that had kept public kaddish journals or published singleton essays, I am aware that my series was unique. Every post included a bisl of Jewish study, woven into personal reflections. As I delved into texts on kaddish and theology, I aimed to share my learning with others in the context of my personal grief journey.
I am neither rabbi nor scholar, and this is no false humility – it is simply true. A word that springs to my mind is one I first heard spoken by Papa: ‘dilettante’ (дилетант).
Dilettante though I may be, my ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ resonated with less Jewishly educated friends and family, as well as with the more learned. I found myself occupying a space somewhere between these worlds and felt I stood with both feet in each. That year’s journey was publicly processed through pride, pain, and pressure.
Of course I couldn’t maintain that standard of creation forever; and I would never publish omphaloskepsis like this on a major media portal.
… but I do crave a space to write in.
One could, of course, assert that blogging is an inherently public endeavor, but there is a substantial difference between an Internet recess and its most oft-traveled expressways.
… and thus this compromise.
I remain deeply thankful for the Times of Israel blogging platform – even today, if one types “kaddish blogs” (or some permutation thereof) into Google, my ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ consistently comes up as one of the top search results. For all of my personal investment, that is certainly a result of the exposure that I received through TOI.
… but now I need my own space.
To write, no longer to impress.