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Saying The Mourner's Kaddish

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Having lost my mother four weeks ago - she was 91 and had lung cancer, so it was not sudden - and being a semi-observant Jew,and after talking to my rabbi, I see the wisdom of some of the ancient Jewish traditions. I'd like to pass on to you all an eleven-month daily ritual called the Mourner's Kaddish, which can be said by Jews and non-Jews alike. There is one form and many interpretations, many in English or Ladino (close to Spanish), and of course in Hebrew. If you can't read Hebrew, many transliterations of it are available - look it up on the Web. You can say it alone, in groups, and

perhaps at the same time and place every day, maybe out in nature. Believe me it helps me put the whole experience in a larger context of both acceptance, and of celebration.

But the one I would like to share today is very accessible, written in English, and is a poetic rendering for the same purpose - to praise G-d for the life that

was brought into and lived in this world; it keeps from dwelling so much on the loss and concentrates more on the celebration of this one life and all life, helps me to remember the great cycle through which we all move.

KADDISH by Marge Piercy

copyright 1999 by Marge Piercy, from THE ART OF BLESSING THE DAY, Alfred A Knopf, publisher

Look around us, search above us, below, behind.

We stand in a great web of being joined together.

Let us praise, let us love the life we are lent

passing through us in the body of Israel

and our own bodies, let's say amein.

Time flows through us like water.

The past and the dead speak through us.

We breathe out our children's children, blessing.

Blessed is the earth from which we grow,

blessed the life we are lent,

blessed the ones who teach us,

blessed the ones we teach,

blessed is the word that cannot say the glory

that shines through us and remains to shine

flowing past distant suns on the way to forever.

Let's say amein.

Blessed is light, blessed is darkness,

but blessed above all else is peace

which bears the fruits of knowledge

on strong branches, let's say amein.

Peace that bears joy into the world,

peace that enables love, peace over Israel

everywhere, blessed and holy is peace,

let's say amein.


I hope this can help you as much as it has me. Another note on a Jewish ritual called "sitting shiva", which can also be done in a variety of ways and has proven to work over a very long time. The mourner(s) is attended to by neighbors, congregants, friends, anywhere from one evening to seven continuous days, being brought food (preferably round to remind us of the circle of life), fed, taken care of, listened to (tell the stories of the life of the departed), has no other duties like housekeeping, etc. Mute the phones, have someone conduct a brief ceremony or reading that includes the Mourner's Kaddish. Many people cover their mirrors so as to be able to concentrate on the ritual. These rituals give full and due attention to the needs of mourners and help us give larger meaning to our lives in community.

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