The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 11

We must discuss the purpose of kaddish. What is it, exactly, that I'm doing this year? (Depends on whom you ask.) This is a major, running theme of Leon Wieseltier's book Kaddish. He writes (pp. 40-41): A story about Rabbi Akiva introduces the mourner's kaddish and announces that its function is the redemption of the dead. The… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 11

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 9

The traditional kaddish journey is deliberately connectional. It pulls mourners into their communities, for they cannot recite kaddish without a minyan. Having surrendered myself to this tradition, I've come to draw upon the wisdom of people that I've reconnected with (those I prayed with before giving up on shul some 3 years ago), as well as others… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 9

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 8

This entry is in honor and memory of my grandmother Maria bat Shmuel and Sima, who passed away a few days ago, at Shabbat's twilight.  Babushka's determination to live was tremendous, particularly given her frailty and failing constitution. Last summer, after being intubated in the hospital and suffering from a calcified heart valve (among other… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 8

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 6

This morning, in the sleepy predawn, I walked to the synagogue carrying two blueberry pies in a plastic bag... instead of the bag containing my tallit (prayer shawl) and tefilin (phylacteries). Damn. Damn. Damn. * * * Most of the time, my father's sense of humor would annoy me, and I would let him know it. "That's not funny,"… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 6

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 1

My father died unexpectedly, suddenly, and quickly on July 7, 2018. He was buried two days later on July 9. It remains shocking and surreal for me that he is gone. I plan to share some very personal reflections about the experience of saying kaddish for my father in this and subsequent blog posts –… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 1