When the rabbi’s wife died

Jewish wedding: No rabbi? No problem! Did you know that according to traditional Jewish law, no rabbi is necessary for the performance of a Jewish wedding? That's right: Jews don't need rabbis to get married. Okay, so what are the essentials? The groom gives the bride something of at least a certain minimum value (usually… Continue reading When the rabbi’s wife died

Mourners relate to mourners

On a bright Thursday in August of 2014, my wife and I attended a beautiful Israeli wedding. It was a lovely outdoor wedding at 'the Moshav'. We still remember the year of the event because it so happened that my wife was pregnant with our daughter at the time. The chuppah (wedding canopy) The bride… Continue reading Mourners relate to mourners

Short story: Serious (II)

The old men in their prayer shawls looked exactly as they did in that photograph that Eema had taken from the women's section of the synagogue when she'd come to services for Abba's first yahrzeit. Looking at the picture, one could almost hear the petitioners chanting softly to themselves as they swayed back and forth… Continue reading Short story: Serious (II)

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 51

Eleven months of kaddish recitations ended (blog #45); then twelve months of being considered a mourner according to Jewish tradition (#48); and then came the Hebrew anniversary of Papa's death, after thirteen months (#50). Now: the end of 'The skeptic's kaddish for the atheist' (#51). 51 is a pentagonal number. I inherited an affinity for… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 51

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 49

https://youtu.be/gxlj4Tk83xQ She was not yet three-and-a-half years-old when her grandfather died, but death was still beyond her imagination. On the other hand, she understood quite starkly, with dismayed frustration, that her father was abruptly leaving home again... "I have to go help Dedushka Shurik move far, far away," he explained too gently. "I'll come back… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 49

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 47

Two weeks ago a middle-aged woman approached me at the back of the sanctuary, as I was readying to head home for havdalah.I've been thinking about you recently. You must be nearly done by now... I'm almost at the end of my eleven months.I recognized her immediately - the rabbi's daughter (blog #3). She had… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 47

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 43

Given my dazedness and state of shock last July, I had no preconceived assumptions nor expectations of my sudden, unanticipated status as a mourner. Then, abruptly, in the middle of Papa's funeral, I found myself stung sharply with tenderness towards the friends and family who had been closest to him. Papa lived a rather solitary life due… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 43

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 42

Eleven months of kaddish recitations end for me on May 28 (Iyyar 23); I have been at the grind for ten months (10 ÷ 11 ≈ 91%). The grief is unabating. I remain shattered and scattered. Last summer, I couldn't bring myself to pour my endless despair out upon anyone. Having returned home to Jerusalem in July… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 42